Warriors Fanfiction
Warriors Fanfiction

Ranks Matter cover. By- XxWillowWindxX

So this story was inspired by a role-play and by some random daydreaming XD If you have any suggestions, please note them on either of our profiles and we’ll will do my best to answer! (This is a WIP and may not be finished very soon!) Thanks for visiting! ✌️


Made by: QuailFrost and XxWillowWindxX! (Also, keep in mind we’re not the best at editing and there ARE going to be some mistakes regarding how this page is presented- sorry...) Enjoy ^^

Ranks Matter

Keeper:(leader, can do anything.) Ace- dark grey tom with amber eyes, formerly of BloodClan

C͟l͟a͟w͟:͟  (deputy, second in command) Dandelion- unusually light cream-coloured she-cat, with a tiny tail, formerly of BloodClan

C͟u͟r͟r͟a͟t͟o͟r͟: (healer/ medicine cat) Patch- a black and white tom with a long, feathery tail, formerly a Loner

  • Scout: Cloud

Puppets: (do the Keepers dirty work, such as spying or stealing)

Spade- dark ginger she-cat with a grey underbelly and tail tip, formerly of BloodClan

Froggy- an unusually large, light beige tom with a spotted pelt

Quail- the sister of Froggy, a pretty short-legged she-cat with an oddly coloured pelt

  • Scout: Mars

Bird- dark brown tabby she-cat with sleek fur, formerly of BloodClan

Pebble- pale grey tabby tom with unusually short ears, formerly of BloodClan

  • Scout: Sphinx

Bloom- fluffy white she-cat with lavender coloured eyes, formerly of BloodClan

Chess- crimson and white she-cat, formerly of BloodClan

  • Scout: Owl

Lavender- very light grey tabby she-cat, formerly of BloodClan

Zero- light ginger tom with darker ginger swirls, formerly of BloodClan

Forest- white she-cat with golden splotches and dark green eyes, formerly of BloodClan

Corrupted- tom with colours like a german shepherd, the father of Froggy and Bramble, and adoptive father of Quail

Third Circle: (second lowest rank, fighters and hunters of the group)

Flip- dark brown tabby she-cat, formerly of BloodClan

Snowflake- white tom with grey flecks and spiky fur, formerly of BloodClan

  • Scout: Dove

Kestrel- diluted tortoiseshell she-cat with blue eyes and short hair, formerly of BloodClan

Bones: (servants, lowest rank)

Skull- skinny grey and white tom, formerly a Loner

Crystal- small blue-grey she-cat with amber eyes and a short muzzle, formerly of TigerClan

Fern- golden-brown she-cat with light gold patches, formerly of TigerClan

Midnight- sleek black tom, with white flecks, formerly of TigerClan

Scouts: (apprentices, can be trained as a Currator, Puppet or to be part of the Third Circle)

Cloud- very pale grey she-cat with green eyes

Mars- reddish-ginger tom with brown eyes

Dove- silver bengal she-cat with extremely short fur

Owl- dusky brown she-cat with white splotches, curled ears and huge amber eyes

Sphinx- hairless tom with large ears

Carers: (queens, will most likely become a Bone or part of the  Third Circle after their kits become Scouts)

Daisy- pretty cream and white she-cat with long, thick hair

Fox- bright ginger she-cat, whom looks a lot like a fox, formerly BloodClan

Cinnamon- tall tortoiseshell she-cat with a distinctive white chest, paws and muzzle

Sunflower- beige she-cat with black ears and tail tip, formerly TigerClan

Cookie- brown tabby she-cat, formerly a Rouge

Kits: (live a strict and possibly cruel life, and spend their first 6 moons of their life learning the rules)

Bramble- brown tabby she-kit with lighter brown legs and white underbelly, the youngest sister of Froggy and Quail

Berry- short-legged tom with a nose the colour of berries

Dapple- very light brown she-kit with darker brown splotches

Sparrow- tortoiseshell she-kit with dark amber eyes

Golden- golden tom with long fur

Apple- ginger she-cat with bright green eyes

Snake- light grey tom with turquoise eyes

Sunset- dark beige she-cat

IMPORTANT CHARACTERS: QUAIL, FROGGY, ACE, BRAMBLE, CORRUPTED, BIRD, MARS & PEBBLE! (Check out my profile to see how they look like exactly)

                              {|.:.|} Chapter One {|.:.|}

                                                  {| The Past |}

Quail rose to her paws from her mossy nest, widening her jaws into a yawn as she shook her fur, trying to wake up for her duties. She had only passed her test and became a full Puppet a couple of moons ago, but somehow she didn’t feel it. She still felt as if she had more to learn, how to defend herself and the rest of the Ranks. She knew it wasn’t her job to protect and hunt, it was the Third Circle’s duty, but she still needed to know in case of anything. She sighed deeply, tucking her paws beneath her clean, white chest and cozying up in the morning sun, having no orders to attend to. She let the warmth of the bright rays seep into her blue and brown fur, lulling her back to sleep. She felt her head drooping, when suddenly she jumped, feeling a poke in her shoulder.

“Wake up...” mewed a soft, familiar voice behind her. She immediately knew who it was, and nodded slowly, still trying to shake a sleepy feeling off her. “Cmon. We have to see if Ace needs anything” the voice muttered again, nudging her shoulder, trying to get her to stand up.

“I know... I’m coming, I’m coming, keep your fur on” Quail chuckled, standing up and stretching the stiffness from her small frame, before pushing past Froggy, who was much taller than her, and who had absolutely nothing in common than her apart from being siblings. Froggy sighed and followed Quail, trotting up to pace with her until he was looming above her like a dark shadow. They padded along to their Keeper’s den, which was at the back of the mountain and in between the two trees which grew at the entrance like an archway.

“Ace?...” Froggy called inside the den from the two trees, not daring to take a step inside the dark, shadowy crave in the mountain.

“What is it, Froggy? Must you bother me so much?” He hissed, his dark figure standing out from the newly lit entrance as the sun rose higher over the mountain edge. Ace stalked over to them, and let out an exhausted groan. His wounds were still bleeding, and part of his shoulder fur was hanging on like a dead leaf onto a branch in leaf-fall.

“We just wanted to know if you needed anything, don’t be so rude to Froggy” Quail mewed, trying to seem taller than she actually was.

“Oh...! Seems a certain puppet doesn’t know her place..” Ace growled, a dark smirk making its way onto his muzzle. Quail drew back a little, her stubby tail falling down slowly, her standing ear pinning to her head as Ace came muzzle-to-muzzle with her. “Don’t make me put with the Bones when you just earned your role..”

“I know my place here, and, although your the Keeper, you have no right to question me without any proof” She made eye contact with Ace, and her ears lifted. She wanted more than anything to prove to everyone that she was loyal to the Ranks, especially because of where her roots came from.

Her father, Corrupted, used to be a warrior in BloodClan, serving Scourge, and her mother was a ThunderClan cat, Silkpelt. If their leaders knew, Corrupted would have been exiled and killed, and Silkpelt would have been exiled from ThunderClan to defend for herself, so they kept it a secret. When her mother knew she was going to have kits, the battle between the forest clans and BloodClan began, and Silkpelt kitted Froggy during the battle, with the help of the kind Medicine Cat of ThunderClan. Another one of the queens from ThunderClan was kitting a few hours later, but sadly she had died due to blood loss. The kits all died, except for one of them: Quail. Silkpelt was taken to the ThunderClan camp for safety along with Froggy, her own kit, and Quail, the other queens kit. The medicine cat asked Silkpelt if she could take care of Quail, and Silkpelt accepted eventually, feeling sorry for the poor scrap of orphaned fur. The two kits were growing fast, but still neither of them could walk or talk, not even open their eyes. In the night, Silkpelt gave the two kits to Corrupted, and told him that the smaller one wasn’t theirs, but was actually adopted. Corrupted took the kits to BloodClan, and a queen there agreed to suckle them until they were made into scouts. In the end, their leaders found out and Corrupted was surprisingly given a second chance by Ace when BloodClan retreated to the mountains and became Ranks Matter, and Silkpelt was given a second chance by the leader, as he himself had joined as a kittypet and his best friend had kits in another clan and decided to give her a second chance. Sadly, Silkpelt was found dead on the edge of the Thunderpath, killed mysteriously by a loner. Corrupted later then fell for another she-cat, Cookie, and had a single kit with her; Bramble.

      Back in BloodClan,  Quail and Froggy grew up until they were made Scouts with thinking their mother was a honourable BloodClan warrior, who had given up her life to save her kits. The two kits were never told the truth that Quail was actually adopted, but a moon after they became Scouts, Corrupted told them the truth about their parents, but he felt as if Quail needed more affection than his own kin. Quail had always seen Corrupted feel more close to her rather than Froggy, but she just thought it was because she looked frail and weak. Curse these stubby legs of mine she thought, lifting a paw and shaking it, padding away from Ace and his dumb accusations.

“FROGGY!” She screeched, as Froggy opened his mouth to reply something to Ace, before shutting it quickly and hurrying after her, knowing how bossy and short-tempered she was. She let out a hmph of anger as she marched away, Froggy hot on her tail. Suddenly she smiled in amusement as she realised that she was much smaller and weak than he was, but she was always in charge of him, and she bet that if she told him to jump off a cliff just to please her, he would do it. It also occurred to her that despite her short legs, she could pounce and leap up much higher than her brother, which made her feel superior to the huge and muscular Puppet. She purred as she caught a glimpse of their little sister, Bramble gazing down the mountain, with two of the other kits, Berry and Sparrow.

“Bramble!” Quail called to her, bounding over to the little crowd of kits on the edge.

“Quail, come quick! Look!” It was Berry who spoke, and he was pointing with his muzzle down at something prowling around the bottom of the mountain, glancing up and around them as if they wanted to make sure they weren’t seen. Too bad thought Quail, narrowing her eyes at the slender figure beneath them. She frowned and turned to Froggy.

“Get the kits back to the Den. I’m going to tell Ace about... that” She murmured, pointing with her tail and heading over to the Keepers den. With a worried glance after her, Froggy turned to the kits and shepherded them to the Den. If this cat was a clan cat, then Ace needed to know, no matter how mouse-brained and fox-hearted he was.  

{|.:.|} Chapter Two {|.:.|}

{| Bloodshed |}

“Ace?” Quail was a rabbit leap away from the den, a frown embedded onto her face as she waited impatiently outside. She made it clear she hated Ace, but she is  a simple Puppet and he was the Keeper, so, whether she liked it or not, she had to show at least some respect, and it was her duty to tell him everything that happened around the territory. She knew that if Ace ever found out who the intruder was, they wouldn’t last long, and she didn’t agree with it. But this wasn’t her place to complain, and finally Ace’s shadow appeared, disturbing her from her thoughts.

“Oh, look who bothered to come” Quail mewed sarcastically, a smirk on her face as she waited for the Keeper to reply.

“Wipe that smirk off your face, Puppet. Now what do you want?... Again?”  he hissed, sitting down in front of her and slouching down to reach her tiny size and actually face her. His pelt was matted with dried blood, and she realised that half of one of his teeth was broken. It hasn’t been that long since the battle, but she expected the great and mighty Ace to bother grooming himself.

“Calm down, Oh Mighty Keeper. Just thought you might like to know that there’s an intruder crawling around the territory”

WHAT?!” he let out an echoing yowl, which still rang in the den’s walls. Most of the Puppets and Bones were nearby, and they all stopped and stared at Ace with wide, expecting eyes. Ace flattened his ears and snarled at the bystanders, and immediately they hurried away with heads bowed and tails trailing on the cold stone ground. “Now what do you mean about an intruder?...”

Quail sighed and opened her jaws to speak. “Bramble, Sparrow and Berry were looking down the mountain at something, and Berry called me over before showing me the intruder. It was looking around as if it didn’t want to be followed or seen, but it didn’t seem to know that we were here,” She was about to continue, when she was cut off by Ace, who was muttering under his breath. “Go fetch some more Puppets, and go looking for any, and I mean anyevidence that shows there has been an intruder. I don’t care if it’s clan, loner or kittypet. I want them off my territory. And if you do catch them... Make sure to give them a proper warning to never step foot into my territory again!.....” He had already gotten up and heading back inside his den, snarling the last words over his shoulder at Quail. Great. she thought. Now we have to go out looking for probably a curious loner!

        After a little while, she had rounded up Froggy, Mars, Bird and Pebble, and told them about the intruder.

“I’ll rip their fur off!” Growled Bird, who was already flexing her paws and taking a battle stance. Froggy and Quail exchanged a bored glance, before Mars nervously stepped in front of Bird.

“Calm down!... We don’t even know if it was an actual intruder yet! Right,.. Quail?” He looked expectantly at Quail, waiting for the short she-cat to say something.

“Yeah... And even if it is... We won’t kill them. What if they’re just some lost kittypet trying to find a way back to their Twoleg?” Bird gave her a hard, cold glare, before nodding slowly and letting the fur on her shoulders lay flat. “Where to now then?”

          The group of Puppets surveyed the whole territory, and yet they found nothing of any sort that proved there had been an intruder.

“Let’s go back! We’ve found nothing, and we’ve been all over the territory!” Pebble whined, nudging Quail in her side with his muzzle, his ears pinned to his head. He was trailing his paws, as if they were made of stone.

“There’s one last bit of the territory, and then we can head back...” She mewed, her eyes flicking back and forth as she took one last glance.

“Hey Quail... what’s that over there?” Mars was pointing with his tail towards a bush, which was shivering ominously. It’s leaves fluttered to the ground as it began to shake worse. Quail flicked her tail to warn them to stay quiet, and the others raised their hackles as Quail crawled forwards. She placed each paw carefully, precautious of the fallen dried leaves, which would give her away if stepped on. Her ears pricked up and her mouth slightly gaping open to taste the air surrounding them. An oddly familiar scent flooded and hit the roof of her mouth, and, mostly out of instinct, she rose to her paws. “Wait... The scent isn’t a loner or clan cat...”

“What do you mean?” Froggy mewed, an edge to his voice. Bird padded over to Quails side, and sniffed the bush cautiously herself. “She’s right... It’s a Rank!” Bird screeched, horror in her voice. A sudden stench of fresh, thick blood stung her nostrils, and she bounded up to the bush, pushing past the prickly thorns to find a pale body laying in a pool of blood, a huge gash in their neck, an endless river of red flooding out.

D-DANDELION!” Quail froze as she looked at the Claw, whom she had always admired. Dandelion wasn’t always the kindest cat in the group, but she was fair and loyal, no matter how mouse-brained her Keeper was. Now, watching the last breaths of life drain from the she-cats body, she felt as if she wanted to avenge her. She knew she could have been a much better Keeper than Ace, but she hasn’t told anyone about what her thoughts on Ace were except Corrupted and Froggy. Sharp gases and yowls interrupted her thoughts, and she turned around to see the others from the group staring at Dandelion’s body in shock and terror.

“I-Is.. Is she dead?..” whispered Pebble, with Bird at his side, muttering something only she could hear.

“Yeah...  she is... But who or what could have done this?!...” Froggy finally spoke, his voice trembling and his claws kneading on the dirt beneath their paws.

“It doesn’t matter right now... We have to take her back and show Ace. He’s going to need to pick a new Claw, r-right?..” Mars padded over to his mentor, who was smaller than him, and waited for a reply.

“W-well.. yes, but we still have to find out how she got killed... It doesn’t seem as if she put up much of a fight, could have been one or two fatal blows, probably an ambush?” Pebble walked forwards and leaned down, grabbing the dead she-cat’s scruff and lifting her head up. He signalled for Froggy to come over, and the huge tom walked over stiffly, crouching down and letting Pebble put the body onto his back to carry. Without another word, the two headed back for the base. Quail sighed, and followed. “Mars, Bird... Come on.. we have to get back”

The Scout and Puppet exchanged a worried look, before bowing their heads and padded after the others. Quail trotted faster to catch up with Froggy, and when she finally did, she looked up at his face. He touched noses with his supposed sister for a long moment before continuing the journey back up the mountain.

     When they got back to the base, terrified yowls and cries came from the Ranks around them. Quail nodded at Bird, Pebble and Mars for them to know they were no longer needed. The three padded away, still stiffened with shock. Her and Froggy carried Dandelion to the Keeper’s den, where Ace was probably still wasting time. They came to the den, and Quail took a few paw-steps inside for the first time in her life.

“Ace! Ace, come here! You need to see this!...” she raised her voice, her words echoing in the hollow cave.

“What is it, Quail?”

“Ace, how about coming out of this depressive den and actually get involved in your Ranks?”

“Oh shut up. Now what do you want me to see so very badly?” He followed the short-legged she-cat as she led him from his safe space. Quail pointed with her muzzle at Froggy, who was laying down the body in front of the Dark Ledge. Ace let out a low, deep hiss and unsheathed his claws. He lifted his paw, and slashed at the dead shes’ side. Quail sighed, not wanting to watch the horrible custom of their group. The Keeper had to approve of the dead cats by slashing them, but Quail was strongly against it, as she thought the poor cat had already suffered enough by loosing their precious life.

“All Ranks old enough to slaughter their enemies in battle, gather beneath the Dark Ledge to hear my orders!” He yowled, his words sounding for what seemed miles away.

                              {|.:.|} Chapter 3 {|.:.|}

                            {| The Search |}

The Ranks padded towards the Dark Ledge, gathering beneath the shadows and staring up at Ace, who was slouching in the dimmed light above the jagged platform which poked out of the highest point of the mountain. His ears were pinned to his head and his dark eyes closed. The fur on his throat ruffled as he took a gulp of air, before speaking up- well, down.

“You are all gathered here for some... mild news.” There were concerned mews from beneath him, and Quail sighed, picturing their reactions when they were told the ‘mild news’.

“Where’s Dandelion?!” a voice from the back spoke up, yowling a question which then riled up the whole crowd of cats. There were some concerned, some questioning, some angry and some just staring silently with shocked expressions, tail tips twitching with fear and curiosity.

Silence!” Ace hissed and spat down at the lower Ranks, his tail lashing and his razor-sharp fangs glistening in the moonlight. His fur bristled and almost at once the mutters stopped. The rainbow glowing orbs fixed on the Keeper.

“Dandelion... Is no longer with us. She had fought her last battle with a rouge ambush near the border of our territory. Some of the Puppets and a Scout have found her body behind some dead bracken, which stank of the putrid rouge scent!” Startled yowls and hisses rose from the cats below Ace, and this time he didn’t silence them. Quail just dipped her head for a long moment in honour of the fallen Claw. The others around her all bowed their heads in sorrow, and Bramble nudged her front leg with her muzzle. Quail lifted her tiny legs up and let Bramble crawl beneath them, and she lay down, resting her chin on Brambles head.

“I want all Scouts, Third Circlers, Scouts and Bones on watch at all times and if any cat finds so much as a leaf or stone out of place I want to know about it IMMEDIATELY!” He snarled, his long, hooked claws unsheathing and his muscles rippling beneath his colourless pelt, shining silver in the bright moon. He rose to his paws and a dark smirk creeped onto his face as he took in the furious hisses and yowls that rose from the multicoloured crowd of cats beneath him. Quail shuddered at the sight of his reaction, and wanted more than anything to get up and leave, but she knew the consequences of that.

However...” Ace continued, “we now need a new Claw for the Group.” At growling those words, all the Puppets fixed their slumped postures and looked gallantly up at Ace, while the Scouts and Bones shared their decisions on who they thought should be the next Claw. Quail sighed and shook her head, knowing no matter how they looked, it was always up to the Keeper, and nothing changed his mind, especially Aces’.

“Quail should be the new Claw! She’s great at hunting and she’s a great leader!” Bramble head-butted Quail as she wriggled from her warm hug, and yowled up to Ace confidently, her tiny frame stumbling over as she was kicked off. She scampered to her paws and shook her head determinedly.

“Bramble! Hush! Sit back down!” She nudged Bramble in her side no-so-gently, and Bramble let out a hiss of annoyance, sitting down indignantly with one eye closed, the other swivelling around the cats.

”Yeah! Bramble’s Right!”

“Quail should be the Claw!”

Other voices rang up, until almost every cat in the group was agreeing with her little sister. Quail felt her fur prickle as she suddenly realised that the group actually accepted her as one of them completely, so much that they would like her to become their next Keeper once Ace has fallen.

“Silence!” A furious hiss bellowed from above them, and suddenly the murmurs of encouragement died down. “I have chosen the new Claw already, and I’m glad to see that you all agree.” Ace shifted his cold stare to Quail, and a chill ran down her spine as she had a moment of realisation. She was going to be the new Claw.

”Quail,” she stood up quickly, and gazed up at Ace, her neck aching. “You have always been loyal to the group, despite from where your roots come from.” As he said this, he shot a meaningful glare at Corrupted, who was sitting behind Quail. She took a small step backwards, and flicked her tiny tail on his shoulder. Corrupted gave her a modest glance, before looking down at his paws in shame once more. The expression on his face was defiantly of shame, but also something else that Quail could not distinguish. Quail sighed, and looked back up at Ace.

”Therefore, you are now the Claw of Ranks Matter.”

{|.:.|} Chapter 4 {|.:.|}

{| The Plot Unfolds |}

Quail was astonished that she, of all cats, was now the Claw. Bundles of cats came to congratulate her, while she sat on the Dark Ledge with her new dirty yellow collar, studded with teeth and claws of defeated dogs. She wanted to get up and yowl with excitement, but all she could do was give little nods of notice and sit. Sit and stare at something beyond the loud cats, beyond the rocky mountain, beyond the star spotted night sky, beyond anything the other cats could see. After a few long moments of watching the plain air, some sudden movement caught her eye. Ace’s dark figure leaped down from the Dark Ledge and slinked from stone to stone, all the way to the bottom. Questions bubbled in Quail’s mind like a newly thawed river in bare-leaf. She rose to her paws without a word and pushed past all the other pelts, making her way towards the edge of the mountain where Ace had disappeared. Her paws tethering on the edge, barely gripping on as the dark material beneath her crumbled like decaying leaves. Quail narrowed her eyes as the tail tip of the mysterious Keeper flicked one last time before pulling into a prickly bush. Her shadowy gaze was fixed on that one spot in the forest for what seemed like seasons, until a poke in her flank snapped her out of her thoughts.

”Quail, congrats!” It was Corrupted. He leaned downwards and nuzzled her, a purr rumbling in his throat like a motor. She lifted her front paws a little off the ground to read to his shoulder and give it affectionate lick.


“Look, sorry if... if our kin situation will make your duty harder and the other Ranks might accept you harder and-“

”It’s fine! If they do, they’ll just have to deal with it, ‘cause they have no right to disrespect me!” She chirped, her flopped ear bouncing a little as she set herself back down. Corrupted gave her a loving lick on her forehead, and she gave him one last muzzle before he walked away to the Lair, a slight bounce in his step. Quail then got congratulated by a giggling Bramble, who was vibrating with joy and pride.

“I TOLD YOU ALL SHE WOULD GET PICKED FOR CLAW! BUT DID YOU BELIEVE ME? NO!” Quail heard her sister boasting to the other kits as they were herded into the Burrow by Cinnamon and Sunflower. She couldn’t hold back a chuckle as she watched the two Carers (Cinnamon and Sunflower) scolding Bramble to stay quiet and stop showing off, but she took zero notice to it. Three other cats, Mars, Pebble and Bird, came to mew their compliments. These three cats were the closest to Quail in the whole group- aside from Froggy- even though they sometimes they were a pain in the tail. Soon she had seen every single cat in the group except Froggy, and the thought that her brother, her best friend, her closest companion wasn’t happy that she was just ranked to such an important role, let alone care. No... Maybe he just hasn’t had the chance to... she thought to herself, hoping more than ever than it was right.

With a shaky exhale, she made her way towards the Lair. She pushed through the hanging vines at the split entrance, and had a glimpse at where her old nest used to be set. As tradition, the fallen Claw had to be buried on their nest, as a sort of gesture to make sure they rested comfortably in their afterlife. Quail’s old nest had been thrown out and a larger nest replaced it, freshly made with soft moss, delicate feathers and silky leaves. The Bones sure were quick she thought as she picked her ways up carefully and settled down in her comfortable bed. She didn’t realise how exhausted she was until she closed her eyes and lay her head down in her small paws, giving in to the deep sleep which called out to her, urging her to fall into its endless depths. She surrendered easily, and drifted into a deep slumber. She awakened a few hours later at feeling something brush against her back, then curl around her tiny frame. Her eyes snapped open and her head whipped around, to hit something, or more like someone.

“Ow!...” A voice piped up, wincing.

“Oh! Sorry...! You scared me...” Quail twisted herself to face Froggy, who was curled around her, his tail set gently on her back like a fluffy blanket.

“So... Well done on becoming Claw...” He didn’t sound excited or even glad, but at least he tried.

Quail chose to ignore the edge in his voice, and she let out a delighted purr. “I thought you didn’t care!” She nuzzled him happily, gazing into his green eyes.

“Of course I didn’t forget, you stupid hair-ball!” He cuffed Quail on the shoulder, and she batted at his nose with sheathed claws.

“Then why did you wait so long to see me?...” Quail queried, shuffling a tiny bit away from his protecting embrace.

“I... I guess it’s a stupid reason, but it’s because... I saw you with dads and how proud he looked... I guess I just felt jealous...”

“Why?... What reason do you have to be jealous?...” She felt a strange feeling building up in her chest, a sort of... distant anger?

“Seeing how dad always gives you more attention, more love, more everything... I know it sounds weird coming from me, but it’s the truth. He clearly loves you more than me, and I guess I just thought- think- that now that your Claw I’ll loose some cat else...” Quail couldn’t really be sure, but she heard little sniffles and thought she could feel his sides shaking as he forces himself to hold his emotions. She sighed and felt the ball of molten anger cooling until it froze completely, and a soft smile appeared on her face. She cuddled up to him, and relaxed, a purr vibrating in her whole body like the buzz of a young green-leaf bee. She felt the tension in her brothers’ shoulders melt away, and he rested his head atop hers. After a little while, she fell asleep, and finally accepted the fact that she was new Claw of Ranks Matter.

{|.:.|} Chapter Five {|.:.|}

{| Wandering Minds |}

The sun rose over the edge of the mountain, the pale orange and bright yellow rays flashing inside the Lair. The sparkling light hit Quail’s eyes, pulling her out of her slumber. With an irritated grumble, she lifted her head, blinking the sleepiness away. For a few moments, she looked around her and didn’t realise where she was. Then it hit her. I’m the Claw... she thought, a small smile spreading across her muzzle. She felt a soft warmth pressed against her back, and saw beige figure. She sighed, wishing she could just curl up and cuddle in her new bed all day long as she used to, but being the Claw came with bigger responsibilities. She shook her head in thought, before padding out of the hollow space. The blinding new light stung her eyes, salty tears pooling and dripping down her fluffy cheeks. With another exasperated exhale, she picked her way towards Ace’s den.

“Ace?...” Quail mewed inside the dark crave, her voice echoing and blasting back at her from all directions.

What?!” He hissed from inside the deserted den, his dark amber eyes gleaming in the darkness like two flares of fire. The piercing anger in his cold stare made Quail flinch, her fur fluffing up and spiking in all directions.

“Ok Mister Sunshine, calm down, I just came to see if you wanted me to do anything, so don’t ‘Claw’ my ears off” She sat down next to the Keeper, who was looking down his muzzle at her. “Ok, not a fan of puns I see...”

“Fine, if your so desperate to do something, then you might be able to prove yourself useful by sending out some patrols to search the territory for any evidence for who killed Dandelion...” He was slouching down, his head hanging from his shoulders. Quail took a disgusted look at him, and for the first time realised exactly how bony he was; his ribs were poking from his skin. She shuffled a mouse length away from him, her nose wrinkled at the stench his pelt carried.

“We already looked in every corner of the territory, Ace. There’s no scent, no markings, no claw marks, fur, nothing! Try to accept the fact that it maybe wasn’t even a cat! It might have been a stray dog without a Twoleg! Now get up and stop sulking in your den like a hopeless kit and actually get involved in things!” Quail felt anger building up inside her chest, and suddenly it was as if she had stepped out of her body and was watching herself blurt out everything she truly thought of the tom. By the time she had finished her rant, Ace was glaring down at her, making himself as tall as he could just to make her feel smaller and weaker than she already was.

What did you just say to me?...”

{|.:.|} Chapter 6 {|.:.|}

{| The Rainbow Reveal |}

Ace had started a rant about how he was the Keeper and how he wanted respect, and how he made a vicious mistake making her the Claw, and blah, blah, blah... Quail zoned out as she glanced outside the bleak, shadowy den and catching sight of Froggy scurrying away from... Something? Her mind wandered to different places as Ace kept hissing at her and pacing up and down (thankfully now actually paying attention to his victim), and while he had his back turned on her she slipped out, making sure not to make a sound. With one last look over her shoulder, she padded towards the edge of the mountain.

After her successful escape from a furious Ace, she settled down on a small corner, the edges of the stone crumbling beneath her paws. Quail sighed as a soft breeze ruffled her fur, fluffing up her fur against the slight cold, tucking her tiny paws beneath her snowy white chest and gazing up at the sky. She hadn’t realised how stressed she had been lately, and suddenly she remembered something. Froggy has practically avoided her for the past moon, and she couldn’t come up with a reason why anyone would ever not want to be around her. I’m kind, brave, amazing, likeable,... she thought, then she realised. Oh. Right... That’s why... With a sigh, she let herself drift into the beginning of a wonderful nap, when a prod in her shoulder snapped her awake.

“Quail?... Do you have any time to talk?...” a voice whispered behind her, before she felt something brush against her side and curl up. She knew that voice all too well.

“Well look who decided to say hello!” She mewed sarcastically, a smirk appearing on her face slowly as she nudged the other cat. “Ok, hurry up, I have a very busy schedule now that I’m Claw”

“Har-har very funny. Mind if I take a few minutes out of your busy schedule your Highness?”

“Hey, hey, hey! Sarcasm is my thing, you can get your own thing!”

“Quail, seriously, can we talk?...” Something about the edge in his voice and the squeaky tone made Quail clear her throat and listen carefully, a new seriousness sparkling in her eyes.

“I’m listening, what’s up?”

“Well... Oh this is awkward to say now that your looking at me like your going to hear that it’s the end of the world...” He suddenly got up, muttering some other words of regret as he turned away.

“Froggy, cmon. Y’know I’m always open to helping you. What’s on your mind?...” She whispered softly, padding over to her brother and nuzzling him, before sitting in his way. She knew for a fact, and from experience, that he could easily step over her and carry on in his path, but she still sat there, willing that he wouldn’t ignore her.

“Fine... Well, I don’t like she-cats.” He blurted it out so quickly and quietly she almost hasn’t heard, but she had. And she was confused, not actually understanding what Froggy was saying.

“Wait.. then?..”

“I only like... toms..” he was looking down at his paws and slouching down, obviously embarrassed. Quail leaned forwards and nudged him, giving his shoulder a lick before s crouching down to look at his face.

“So?... What’s the problem?... It doesn’t make you weird or the odd one out, it just makes you special”

“But what will the rest of the group think?... They’re not as understanding as my own kin...”

“Who cares what they think?!”

“But what if they-“

“And if they make fun of you or exclude you out of... well everything, they’ll have me to answer to”

“I guess it’s useful to have a sister who’s the Claw of the group” He finally looked up, and a faint smile was spreading across his face.

“Isn’t it?” Quail smirked, batting up at Froggy gently with one paw, chuckling when she stumbled down.

“Thanks Quail... For always being there for me..” Froggy nuzzled her, and she returned the embrace.

“No problem! Y’know I’m always here if you need to talk to someone” She purred and gave his shoulder another lick, before rising to her paws and beginning to head towards the Den, when she heard a yowl.

QUAIL!” The shriek came from Aces’ cave, his voice cracking with fury and anger at the young Claw. “GET OVER HERE!”

“Uh-oh... Well, good chatting with you Frogger, but I now must assist the shrieking banshee. Good day, my darling brother” She gave a little nod before sprinting over to her Keeper.

“I’M HERE, CALM DOWN!” she spat up at Ace, who was practically sparking off embers from his whiskers and the tips of his ears steaming. Quail imagined the picture, and the thought made her giggle. Bad move.

“Quail... How dare you talk to me like that!” And here we go again... she thought, listening to Aces’ rant all over again.

{|.:.|} Chapter 7 {|.:.|}

{| The New Problem |}

“Ok Mars, I’m going to set you your first assignment. Go to the top of the mountain, retrieve the poppy from Bird and bring it back down to me. You have until Pebble is done eating that rabbit,” She pointed up the huge mountain, which towered above them as if they were tiny, insignificant ants. Quail then gave a little nod towards Pebble, who was slurping and crunching on the rabbit. “ Also, Pebble, ew.”

“What?! I’m hungry!” He managed to mutter in between bites, and Quail gave an exasperated sigh.

“Ok well, Mars, off... you.. go!” Quail flicked her stubbed tail, and the young Scout dashed up, leaping from rock to rock, his powerful paws clinging to the grey stone. Some of the rubble flew down at maximum speed, and it landed straight on Quails’ head. She gave a squeaky wince, followed by a colourful curse up at Mars.

“HA! You deserved that!” Pebble laughed towards Quail, cackling some more insults which could make even the strongest and fearless Puppet cry and whimper in shame.

“Watch how you talk to me now, I’ve got a higher and more important Rank than you. It’s even in my authority to get you working with the Bones for a whole moon!” Quail tucked her paws beneath her chest, a smug smile spreading across her face as she felt a slither of pride in her mild threat. Of course, she could never in a million seasons actually commit to those actions, but it felt good to boast about her new sense of power.

“Fine, I’ll shut up. But your Scout had better hurry up; I’m nearly finished” Quail had just realised that there was barely any more meat left on the skinny bones of the deceased creature, but it hadn’t actually crossed her mind that Mars wouldn’t be back down by the time Pebble was done. She also knew that he was an extremely slow eater, and she had seen Mars do other tasks in shorter lengths of time.

“Now that you mention it, I’m getting a little worried. I’ve given him other tasks before, and in much less time to complete them, but he’s always finished them. And I also know he’s a good climber- remember the time Snake got stuck on the far side of the mountains in that weird hole? Mars climbed up all the way there and got the poor little kit out”

“Yea. It was a bit weird watching a cat carry another cat that was barely any smaller than him, but you’re right.” Pebble took one last bite of the prey, and pushed the bones away. They were so clean the white texture shined in the sunlight like diamonds. “Anyways, I’m done and he’s still not back yet”

“Go up there and see what’s going on, I’ll stay down here in case anything happens”

“Wouldn’t it be better is you-“ Pebble began to argue, a suspicious edge to his voice.

“Now.” She hissed, her head snapping towards her group mate. Her cold glare trailed behind the grey tom as he made his way up, his fur almost disappearing as he got higher up.

Quail gave a little sigh, her eyelids getting heavier and heavier. Since she had been made the Claw, Ace had her on random errands- getting him fresh kill, seeing that the kits were safe enough in the Burrow, helping Pop and Cloud gather herbs and spices for the stock... All those insignificant tasks tired her out, little by little, but she hasn’t exactly realised it until now. She felt her paws stretching out, as if she wasn’t controlling her own body. With a shake of her head, she managed to keep herself awake. Once again, she felt herself nodding off, until... SNAP! Something cracking behind her woke her up completely. Quail sprang to her paws, her fur bristling.

“Who’s there?!” Her hiss shook with a snippet of fear, as she knew she was too tired for a fight. “Don’t be a coward! Show yourself!”

An eerie chuckle rang through the clearing, as if a ghost was wailing in sorrow and pain. The sky began to darken, the blinding rays of sunshine disappearing past the horizon. Quail began to worry as she hoped any other cat from her group would appear out of thin air.

“Well, well... Feisty, are we now?...” A crackling voice hissed, sarcasm hitting Quail like a bullet. Oh no... Not this type of cat...she thought restlessly, worry and fear bursting through her. All her instincts screamed at her to run up the mountain and take refugee in the Den, but a little voice somewhere in her head whispered at her to stay and find out who this creepy intruder was.

“Look, whoever you are, just go away. I don’t want to start any fights for no reason...”

“I don’t take orders from you, little kit. And don’t worry, this battle will not be meaningless...” The intruder’s words chilled Quail to the bone, and another hissing laugh broke out.

“I’m not a kit! Now answer me; who are you and what do you want?!”

“Oh just someone, wandering by...” Suddenly she saw a dark figure weaving back and forth between the tall trees in the forest, and the sight of bright green optics put the fear of BloodClan in Quail.

“Well then leave! Do not make me call the patrols to deal with you! I don’t want blood shed on my territory for no reason”

“Well then... I’ll make sure you won’t see it!” An ear-splitting yowl shot at Quail, and suddenly the dark figure lunged towards her, sharp claws unsheathed and shredding the air, glittering white fangs ready to bite the life out of her. She felt a sharp pain in the side of her face, and tried to fight back, but it was no use; she was too weak and tired at this point, and stood to chance against this... this... phantom. With another hit in the head, Quail felt herself tumbling down to the grassy ground, her paws flailing helplessly in hope of crawling away. As her head made contact with the earth beneath her, she was blinded. All she could see was black. Pitch black.

{|.:.|} Chapter 8 {|.:.|}

{| The Wounded Claw |}

It seemed like moons before she woke up, but Quail finally opened her eyes. The sudden light stung her eyes, but she was thankful to actually see light again. It felt stupid to think like that, but it was the ugly truth. The pain from her wounds throbbed and bled, staining the ground around her, but at the moment all she wondered was where she was. None of her surroundings seemed familiar, and the figure of a distant cat had none of the scents she knew of. Her vision was blurred, a trickle of scarlet liquid blocking the vision in her right eye. Her whole frame shuddered with a cough, and her muscles ached as if she had just fallen off a cliff.

“Hey, Kit, you’re up!” An unknown voice piped up from a couple of tail-lengths away. Two glowing eyes shimmered in the shadows. There was a certain eerie feel to this strange cats glare, but somehow she didn’t feel threatened.

“I’m not a kit..” she muttered, giving a slight groan as she tried to turn on her side to try get a better look at the stranger.

“Well, kits are small, weak and frail, and right now, you’re exactly those things!”

“I’m not weak..! And I’m not small... Well, I guess I am, but I’m not weak... I was just tired and caught off-guard..” She gave another whimper while trying to sit up but failing, collapsing back down. The cat rushed towards her, propping her back up.

“Hey, hey... a take it easy. You’re pretty roughed up...” The cat nudged her paw slightly, then backed away with a scared gasp. “Are... Are you from BloodClan?...”

Quail glanced down at her paws, and saw her extended claws. Even when sheathed, they were still long and sharp. Even if her group wasn’t BloodClan anymore, they still had some of the same customs. As a Puppet, she had dog claws to extend her normal ones.

“I can’t say I am, but I do have roots from BloodClan...” She gave another cough, her whole body vibrating with pain.

“What do you mean...?” There was an edge to their voice, and Quail strained her neck to try catch a glimpse of what this cat looked like, but they remained well in the shadows and her vision was still worse than usual.

“Well, I’m part of Ranks Matter, a group of former BloodClan warriors, some TigerClan, loners and rouges... After BloodClan lost to the forest clans, Ace, our Keeper, took over and made us into what we are now..” She gave another sniff, followed by a cough with made her throat raw with throbbing pain. Tiny droplets of blood splattered on the ground.

“ ‘Keeper’?”

“It’s what we call our leader”

“It’s what we call our leader”

“Why keeper and not leader then?” Quail was growing impatient, partly because this strange cats questions were starting to annoy her, and the fact that she couldn’t even sit up without leaning on something.

“Because... Technically the Keeper owns us.. And anyways, why do you need to know?...” Another blood-curdling cackle shook her body, her fur prickling with sweat of the effort it took just to do such a simple action.

“Well, it’s not everyday you find a tiny dying cat in the rain with wounds the size of the forest, along with them having claws like a psychotic dog” The stranger was speaking to casually Quail thought she sensed some humour.

“Wait... ‘in the rain’? W-where was I?...” Quail felt her nerves rising higher and higher, until she felt it was up to her throat. Then she realised what it really was.

“Oh thats- Oh thank you so much for doing that in my home...” The cat was gagging and disappearing further into the shadows, the slits of amber glittering like full moons hidden behind clouds. Quail had just stopped gagging and retching, and her neck was bent down almost to the ground. Her shoulder blades poked through her skin, and her ribs showed alarmingly, her fur almost parting to where they stood out. After she stopped shuddering, she collapsed onto her side again, panting slightly.

“Uhm... Do you get enough to eat?... Because I’m pretty sure I just saw every bone in your body...” The cat was staring at her, with a glint in their eyes that Quail just couldn’t make out.

“We don’t... We don’t have much pray near our base so some cats die of hunger, and the ones who put up with it grow weak and skinny... And if they do, they get thrown out to defend for themselves, but after a few days they come back, and well, get killed anyways.. I’m one of the victims of this situation, but I’m lucky; I’m the Claw of the group” It was taking a huge effort to speak of such delicate matters, especially with a stranger and in her current vulnerable state.

“So basically... If a cat isn’t strong and fit they get thrown out to die?”

“Pretty much...” Quail let out another cough, this time it was thicker and her throat felt as if it was being sliced open by the sharpest claws. She winced, shutting her eyes and letting bitter tears drip onto the ground. She suddenly felt something touch her side, and her muscles froze. “Wha-“

“Relax... I’m just bandaging your wounds.. It’s not good to leave them open for such a long time, you will get an infection. I’m also pretty sure you caught whitecough...” The dark figure had slinked out from the shadows, and was now slowly pressing cobwebs against Quails’ back and face, dabbing away the excess blood. Without realising, she had began breathing heavily, having trouble taking in breaths of cool air. Her fur began to prickle madly, and the trees were spinning around her. Her vision was now only appearing in splotches, and her hearing was almost gone.

“Hey... stop stressing, you’re going to be fine..” A voice muttered that chilled Quail to the bone, sending a lightning of stress down her spine. She didn’t feel threatened, but there was something odd about the way it suddenly melted away, and she tried to twist her head to get a better look, but all she saw was a dark grey figure, with gleaming amber eyes and sharp fangs, equipped with a lashing angry tail and unsheathed menacing claws. After a short while she realised it wasn’t facing her, but a lighter-furred opponent, with two other silhouettes on the side of them. She sniffed the air wearily, catching a scent, and immediately recognised the three ‘enemy’ scents; Pebble, Chess and Froggy. The cat in front of her, she realised, was a tom, by the strange smell he carried. She was thought this in one of her first lessons as a Scout, and until now she hadn’t seen the use to it.

“Leave her alone!” an aggressive hiss lashed at the cat protecting her nearly limp body, and all she saw was a huge splash of white a couple of rabbit leaps away.

“How should I trust you? You starve your cats and kill them if they ask for help! I shouldn’t trust you with a cat who is nearly dying?!” The tom spat out the words, and slashed at Chess’ muzzle. She snarled like a crazed dog, and launched herself forwards, but missed. After a string of curses she got back up again and leaped back to the other two. Her red and white fur was matted to her skin with rain and mud, which Quail hadn’t realised until now that she got to have a closer look.

“It doesn’t concern you what our customs are! I already told you, get away from her!” Froggy sprang forwards, claws out in front of him and slashing the air, ready to take on the grey tom. He missed painfully, landing in a heap on the damp earth. Not accepting defeat, he jumped to his paws and slashed at the grey tom, not noticing Quail as she tried to stand up and do something about this meaningless fight. With a few staggering breaths, she was up on all four paws, and limping towards the fight. Her vision still failing to help, she walked right into the middle of it. A gigantic paw with glinting claws rushed towards her face, until it made contact with it. She was thrown back down with a yowl of pain, a fresh river of blood flowing from the side of her face. She writhed on the floor, squirming around and making an awful gurgling noise. Her sickness was getting worse by the minute, and blood loss wasn’t making it better. It all felt like a whole moon had passed in that moment, but it was just a split second before she heard a harsh yowl from her attacker. She blinked slowly, feeling as if she was being lifted off the ground and into the sky, the wind carrying her through the rain and to her home. The sounds of thumping paws out a sense of serenity in her, but the smell of rusty blood made her gag. She wasn’t sure what happened next, apart from the fact that she was in a deep, pained sleep.

{|.:.|} Chapter Nine {|.:.|}

{| New Introductions |}

Quail woke up with a pounding headache, and a pain stabbing her side. Her eyelids were heavily hanging down, urging her to go back to sleep, but a screech prevented her from even relaxing.

“GET IN HERE SHE’S UP!” Quail recognised Patch’s voice, and her ear sank down to her head. After a few seconds a bunch of cats trampled into the dark den. The sudden noise made her wince and twisted her body in hope of turning her back to the unwelcome commotion. She suddenly froze, a pinching pain forcing her to remain in her place. She sighed, and glared at the Currator.

“Ok.. Patch, next time you decide to yowl like a rat, at least make sure I’m not here?” Quail grumbled, sarcasm dripping out of her voice like blood from a freshly killed mouse.

“Ok, ok, keep your fur on. I’m sorry for wanting the cats who care about you to know you’re ok”

Quail scowled and flicked her tiny tail irritably, while the Currator grinned sheepishly, turning to the shelves to grab some more herbs, and flicking his tail to beckon the cats, who were anxiously shifting from paw to paw at the second entrance. The smallest of the cats rushed forwards, tails straight up in the air, tiny paws nearly tripping over each other in the process. After a few moments the rest of the cats piled in the passage.

“Quail!” One of the kits gasped, and Quail knew at once it was Bramble. “Are you ok? Patch says you have a cough and a fever!” The two other kits tumbled next to her, burying their faces in her fur. She knew the other two kits, Sparrow and Berry, weren’t her own kin, but it always felt like they were, and the fact that they were all so worried about her made her purr with appreciation. Quail lifted one of her front paws, trying to place it over the three kittens, but failed to, which also made her whole shoulder sting with pain. Patch rushed forwards with cobwebs and more of a herb poultice on a wide, fresh green leaf, clicking his tongue and pushing the kits away from Quail.

“Hey! Those are my little cuddle buddies!” She half-whined, half-laughed, giving the Currator an odd look. She received the same look back from him, and Quail frowned, realising how stupid she looked.

“See? It’s not nice if you have to see that face!” Patch mewed, his voice muffled by the herbs her was carrying. He placed them down in front of Quails muzzle, and signalled for her to eat. Quail’s muzzle scrunched in disgust, but she still ate them anyways, hating every chew of the tangy bitter and sour plants. Her whole fur stood on end as she gulped down the mixture, disgust glistening in her eyes. After the torture of consuming those herbs, her body shivered and shook with another cough. It felt like a dozen furious wasps stinging her throat. Head head felt like it was drooping, and her stomach churned.

“Ok kits, go outside, it’s not safe in here anymore!” Patch ushered them out, while they all complained.

“You can’t stay here because Quail has whitecough, and if you three catch it too, then the other kits will get it too, and I’ll need to listen to all your whiny squeaks and squawks, which will stop me from healing you and then you will all die a harsh and painful death!” Quails eyes widened as she heard what the Currator said to the kits, and the little terrified mews of protest began to get quieter and quieter.

“Patch, please do not terrify the poor, tiny creatures!...” Her voice was quiet and raspy, and her mouth felt as if she had just swallowed a mouthful of sand and dirt. Three more cats entered the far side of the den through the thin vines. She couldn’t see perfectly anymore, partly due to the poppy seeds in the herb mixture, but she could just make out the figures. She recognised Corrupted, Cookie and Froggy, but she couldn’t put their expressions. Cookie let out a tiny gasp and rushed over to Quails’ side, muttering something about never getting into unnecessary fights and almost dying... Quail was getting far too tired to listen, letting Cookie smooth the fur on her head down. She kept muttering something, but it was indistinguishable as her attention was grabbed by Corrupted, who was holding his head above Froggy's, giving it quick licks. Tears were trickling down to the ground, staining the grey stone and wetting the little of the moss bedding. Wounds covered her brother’s pelt like a second layer of fur, fresh blood still marking the places where scars weren’t visible. Her father’s fur was ruffled with dust and hit paws were matted with thick mud, leaving prints across the floor, which made Patch grumble under his breath. Corrupted the signed, his whole body creaking as she rose to his paws and made his way out, head hanging, with Cookie rushing to her paws and muttering ‘I’ll see to him’ to the other cats in the den. Before leaving, she muttered something to the Currator, and he cursed under his breath, grabbing a mouthful of herbs and hissing at Quail.

“You’re spreading sickness everywhere!”

Quail glared at Patch as he rushed out, opening her mouth to respond but instead a cough escaped from her jaws and echoed around the walls, hitting it back at her. Her brother’s ears flattened, and he hunched over further.

“And then there were two...” Quail murmured, her voice hoarse and thick, and she struggled to get the words out. Her breathing was shallow and her sides heaved as if she had just run up and down the mountain.

“You ok?...” He mumbled, gulping imaginary prey before lifting his head to glance at her for a short moment.

“Well, let’s recap,” Quail let out a few more cackles, before continuing. “I’m being starved, I got attacked by an unknown cat, I was found by a possible cat on the side of my attacker, I have whitecough, and I’m possibly on my last breath!... Take a guess, dear brother” Sarcasm and bitter pain stained her voice like the blood on her soft bed. Her eyes closed further and further, and the pain in her wounds began to hurt less and less by the minute. She saw Froggy standing up and slowly padding behind her. He smoothed the fur behind her ears, and she purred gently, falling asleep as she felt the whole world melt around her like snow in leaf-bare.

“Hey... While I’m sick, and I need you for anything... Would you be there for me?...” She muttered, half-asleep as she tried to make her words distinguishable.

“‘Course, I’m your brother” He looked down at her, resting his head on her shoulder. He mewed something else, and Quail’s attention was grabbed by two silhouettes entering the hollow area. They were followed by Patch, who was frowning at them as if he was about to leap at them any moment. She immediately recognised Ace, and Patch, but the other cat was a complete stranger to her. Immediately, her fur ruffled and her whole body tensed and shivered. Ace gave an irritated sigh, and sat down calmly.

“Calm down kit, it’s just me and the cat who saved your life” he grumbled indignantly, the tip of his tail flicking with irritation. Patch was looking offended that he was mentioned in Ace’s telling-off. Quail sighed slightly, and groaned as she behaved herself up on her side, glaring at Ace, forcing herself to stay awake.

“Alright, I think you made your point!... And I’m pretty sure Patch is inventing more torture ideas for you while you’re screeching at me for being so weak... It’s not my fault you starve me and then get attacked by something...” She looked Ace dead in the eye, hoping to make him feel at least a little shame in his cold, dead heart. The Keeper let out a dark, fur-ruffling snarl, directed at the tiny she-cat, as if he had more to say, but the strange cat stepped in front of Ace.

“Call down, almighty leader... The kit didn’t do anything to you so don’t put it in more pain that it already is!...” The other, almost identical tom next to Ace lashed his tail and gave a slight nod towards Quail.

“So... What, I’m an object now?” Quail frowned at the toms in the cave, her ears flattened to her head. The tom next to Ace gave an annoyed ‘ugh’ and rolled his eyes, before meowing something to Patch again, who shook his head in frantic disapproval.

“Are... Are you two planning my death? Because if you are, thank you Patch for being so loyal” She butted into the conversation, no hint of seriousness in her remark as she tried to catch their attention. After a long pause, she continued. “Look, stop gossiping like a couple of Carers and tell me what happened to me..” This time, her voice bled with pain. She glanced up and saw her brother’s eyes piercing into their pelts like claws through mud.

“Alright fine. I’m Pigeon-“ Quail snorted, and Ace snarled at her shortly. Pigeon simply rolled his eyes, and continued. “And I’m just a loner compared to everyone here,”

“I get it, we’re better than you. But that’s not what I want to know. Tell me how you found me...” Quail interrupted, causing Ace to hiss at her again. She returned the hiss with a quick ‘hush’.

“Fine, fine. I was out hunting, and it started raining, so obviously I rushed back to my den, but then a dying body was in my way, and I had to get it out of my way so I took the carcass with me” Quail looked to her side, where Froggy was now sitting, and whispered the word ‘carcass’ silently. Froggy just shrugged in pure amusement.

“When I took said carcass to my proud home, and cared for it until I was attacked by three cats; Mantis over there-“ Pigeon pointed towards Froggy, who almost leapt up with indignation.

“I’m not that tall!...” He mumbled under his breath. Now you know how I feel all the time... she thought, a slight frown painted onto her face.

“The Plague itself and that foaming dog outside” Ace immediately jumped to his paws, fur ruffled.

“Dog?! Where?!” Ace hissed at everyone around him, and Quail gave a long sigh.

“Sit down, you unhinged bolt of tension! I’m betting he means Chess; we all know how she... how can I put this nicely, uh... Attacks like a psychotic vulture” Ace ignored everything else in the sentence but the fact that Quail called him an ‘unhinged bolt of tension’. Patch and Froggy both cursed and exhaled simultaneously, standing up and flicking their tails. Pigeon looked around in obvious confusion, and Froggy smirked as if he knew exactly what was coming.

“Well, there goes the rest of the day! I wish you all good luck, and I will now leave you in peace” Patch threw some herbs into the floor which Quail should take, and hurried out with Froggy. Pigeon was still disoriented, but curiosity kept his paws rooted in place.

“You have no right to speak to me this way!” Ace screeched, tail lashing behind him furiously. Pigeon’s eyes widened as Quail slowly straightened up. A slam of agony pulsates through ever none in her body, and she had a strong urge to throw herself back down, but her instincts screamed at her to carry on with the argument. And WIN it.

“Oh, but I do! I have all the rights of Scourge! Right at the exact moment you made me Claw!” The irritation in Quail’s voice escalated quickly, but there was also a smug smile across her muzzle.

“You missed out one word that just flew out of your ridiculous mouth! ‘Claw’! That means you still need to have some respect for me in your minuscule heart!”

“Says the tom who abandons cats if they get more than just some deep wounds or mild sickness! I’m surprised you haven’t thrown me out and down the mountain for being such a ‘tiny, weak kit’ as everyone says!”

“You have ever seen yourself, haven’t you?...” Pigeon was still watching them, as if it was a very interesting air battle, and suddenly slithered into the conversation.

“Shut up tiny this doesn’t involve you” Quail whipped around to turn to look at the tom, and snapped her response harshly. As she said so, Pigeon almost leaped up, and gasped.

“‘Tiny’?! I’m taller than you!” Quail looked him up and down, then sneered.

“Not by much...”

“Oh come on! Everything is bigger than you!”

“Calm down, you pair of Carers and let me get a word in!” Ace yowled, unsheathing his claws. Pigeon sat down obediently, but was still mumbling. Quail’s fur fluffed out to its full length, and she was ready for round two.

The three carried on arguing and blasting insults to each other, also revealing dark secrets to each other and maybe a claw- or two- were extended. At som point, Patch came back into the den when things got even more heated up, but nothing too serious happened.

{|.:.|} Chapter 10 {|.:.|}

{| Painfully Bittersweet Truth |}

Quail was watching Patch as he calmly made some herb poultices and mixtures, every now and then stopping to mentally note everything. Cloud, his Scout, dashed in and out of the narrow tunnel, always with a mouthful of herbs and resources clamped in her jaws. Quail nodded and smiled at her in greeting whenever she appeared once more, and sometimes it was returned with a grateful flick of the tail. Quail hadn’t realised how much the Currators actually worked. She had always thought they had everything magically prepared, ready for anything, but it was actually just her imagination. She sighed, and let her head down on her front paws. In the first few days on her injuries, she had felt as if her head was going to explode, and her chest felt as if it was going to crumble into dust if she coughed any more, but now she just felt... Empty. She just felt as if she was a useless kit, and as weeks passed she still wasn't physically improving. Her wounds were partly gone, but the hustle gash in her side was still throbbing and pinching whenever she moved. Quail sighed, and shuffled to face Patch, who was crunching on a mouse. She didn’t really know how to start conversation, so she just asked a question that she had been asking herself for a while.

“Hey, Patch... Why hasn’t Dad come to see me since... since the first day?...” She mumbled, almost whispering the words. The Currator was taken a little aback by the question, but gave it a moment of thought and finally answered.

“Corrupted? He’s just stubborn. He blames himself for some reason, says he doesn’t want to see you on such a state. Who can blame him though? Let’s face it, everyone here likes you; the kits, Scouts, Puppets, Carers, even the Bones! And you order them around” Quail didn’t expect this answer, but she enjoyed hearing that everyone appreciated having her around.

“Oh... Well I suppose it’s refreshing to hear that despite the insults and smirks they enjoy having me around” Patch gave a slight nod, took another bite of the mouse and carried on.

“If I may, why do you call Corrupted ‘Dad’?” Quail look at Patch as if he was stupid. Is he mouse-brained or what?

“Well, I’m guessing that’s what everyone calls their fathers” she mewed in a tone as if to say imply it was obvious.

“But... He’s not- He’s not your father...” By this time, Quail thought Patch had eaten too much if the strange herbs in the storages.

“Not to be rude, but... Are you mouse-brained?”

Patch suddenly looked embarrassed, as if he had just said something he wasn’t supposed to. “Oh... I- I thought you knew...”

“Knew what...?!” There was urgency in her voice, and agitation bubbled in her stomach, when suddenly Froggy appeared, dragging an eagle by its wing to the middle of the den, and sitting down next to Quail, wrapping his tail around her.

“Hey Frogger” She mewed calmly, pressing her forehead against her brothers’, before shooting a look at Patch.

“I brought you both some prey, and Cloud if she’s here somewhere” Quail nodded, and gave his shoulder a lick as thanks.

“You know, I could have sworn you two were mates if I hadn’t met you properly. I mean, the rest of the group seems to think so too, and Pigeon” Quail’s emotions immediately dropped, and a weird emotion pulsated through her body.

“Point me towards who dared mutter that and I will sink my claws in their throat” She growled, staring Patch dead in the eye. Froggy was struggling not to laugh, and was practically jittering under his fur. Patch was shocked by the reaction of the two younger cats, and backed away slightly from them both.

“Ok... Forget I said that... But anyways, as I was saying, Corrupted isn’t your father Quail” Both the tiny she-cat and gigantic tom stared at the Currator, and they nearly went limp like a dead fish.

“Then... Does that mean we’re not?... We’re not siblings?...” Quail whispered, her blood freezing in her veins as she lowered her head, pulling away from Froggy so that she sat in her cold nest alone. She inhaled slowly, then exhaled, and shivered slightly. “Carry on... I want the full story...”

Patch nodded, and padded out of the den. When he returned, he had Corrupted with him, who was holding his tail and head down in shame. Quail’s eyes bore into Corrupted's, as if she was mentally clawing at his pelt.

“Quail I-“ Corrupted choked on air, his voice cracking.

“No!...” Quail snapped abruptly. “I want the full story... Don’t sugarcoat it, just tell me... Just tell me where I’m from if your not my father!..” Her volume in her voice rose and rose slowly, and she was near tears. Her eyes throbbed, and her vision grew blurry.

“Me and Ace will leave...” Patch muttered, motioning to Ace to follow him. He was reluctant, but eventually obeyed.

“I’ll stay...” Froggy mewed to Corrupted, who nodded gently. Quail shook her head stiffly, slightly twisting her head to face the tom.

“No, go with them. This is between me and Corrupted..” After she finished saying what she needed to, she went back to staring at Corrupted in dismay. Froggy looked offended, but solemnly left the two cats alone.

“Start talking” Quail commanded Corrupted, a harsh and controlling edge to her meow.

“Fine... You already know I’m not your father, and Cookie technically isn’t your mother, as you knew for a long time.. And Froggy and Bramble aren’t your siblings.. None of us are your kin. You’re not even from BloodClan.. You’re a Forest Clan cat...” Quail was silent, staring at her paws.

“I’ll start at the beginning. I’m sure you know the huge battle between BloodClan and the Forest Clans, a few seasons ago. Well, that’s when you were born, along with two other kits, Patchkit and Brightkit. They were both born stillborn, but your mother still named you all.. You were Quailkit, but took in the name of Quail after I brought you here. Both your mother and father died; your father was killed and your mother died shortly after giving birth..”

“Who... Who were my real parents?...”

“All I know is that your mother was Splashfur and your father was Bearstrike. I’ve never met them, but Silkpelt told me about them...” Corrupted flinched at the name, and his fur was frizzing.


“My... My old mate... Froggy’s mother... She was killed by a loner and gave me Froggy and you when you both were kits to take to BloodClan...”

“So he’s half-clan?... It’s better than being like me...” She muttered, almost silently and half to herself.

Corrupted looked at her sympathetically, then continued. “All of your real kin died, most of them in the Great Battle. After I took you and Froggy from Silkpelt You grew up here, with all our customs, and I never told you about your real kin... After a while I found Cookie, and we had Bramble... So I guess none of us really are related to you in any way...” Quail was staring into space, at a place that not even she could see. Slowly and quietly she stood up, and limped forwards to Corrupted. A strange feeling churned and bubbled in her stomach, before it burst out.

“I HATE YOU!” She yowled, spitting with fury and frustration. She hissed, her fur bristling as she swiped at Corrupted’s eye, leaving a large scratch across it. The tom was dumbfounded, letting the blood trickle into his amber eyes and down his muzzle. Quail glared at him, before hurriedly rushing out of the den and through the thin tunnel. Her fake kin was outside, and they rushed over after the commotion they had just heard. They surrounded her, trying to calm her down, but she swiped at all of them.

“Get away from me!” she hissed with pure anger and jealousy, and she limped away to the den. Grumbling insults and curses under her breath, she felt herself tearing up, and knew she was going to start crying. She tried a quick jog to her nest. She threw herself down in the fresh, soft bed, and curled up. She blocked out every noise around her, and began to cry. Tears streamed down her face, and she held her paws over her face. She sniffed and sobbed in pure sorrow, her body shivering and shaking. A while later she began to just sniff every now and then, but suddenly something brushed on either side of her, and she opened her eyes. The sudden new light hurt and stung, but she didn’t feel anything at that exact moment. She saw Pebble and Bird, both looking at her worriedly. Pebble put his chin in Quail’s head, and Bird had her muzzle pressed in Quail’s shoulder.

“It’s fine...” Pebble mumbled, and Bird licked her shoulder affectionately.

“Thanks... I’ll be fine...” Quail’s voice was wobbly and quiet, and she let her two closest friends fuss over her. She noticed Froggy and Corrupted walk in but she ignored them completely, busying herself with talking to Pebble and Bird.

{|.:.|} Chapter 11 {|.:.|}

{| The Blamed Betrayal |}

Quail was waiting for her Scout to come back from his hunting assignment, with Froggy, Forest and Bird nearby. Forest was keeping an eye on Mars from the ground, while Bird and Quail spied on the Scout from the trees. Quail wasn’t sure what Froggy’s role was, but he had insisted, practically begged, on coming with them although they only needed three cats to asses Mars. Quail rolled her eyes at the thought, and carried on watching the ginger tom from above his head, through the lush green leaves of green-leaf. The Scout was just about to pounce on his prey, when a loud scrambling noise from the bottom of the tree she was crouching in. Mars cursed as his prey got away, and came over to see what was going on. Quail swore at the sky, leaping from branch to branch to find the lowest possible point, before landing down on all fours.

“You complete idiot! Why in Scourge’s name would you do this?! Why would you disrupt his assessment?!” Quail was hissing at Froggy, who had been trying to climb up the tree but failing miserably.

“Oh come on! He could have ignored me!” Froggy argued back, then immediately regretted it. Since Quail had found out she was actually an orphaned clan cat, that she had no kin alive, she had turned more... aggressive, commanding, colder than usual. She always lashed out and shouted if no cat did what she said and always being hostile towards everyone, as if turning her back to reality. By the then, both Forest and Bird were joining in with the others, and scowled at Froggy in clear disapproval. Quail sighed, and turned to Mars.

“You did good, but didn’t complete the assignment. We’ll continue this tomorrow, so be up early and ready to begin” After Quail had finished talking, Mars was almost flaming with frustration, but nodded stiffly. Then, Quail turned to face Froggy.

“If you’re so eager to help, then go help the Bones. I’m sure they will need some help with all the cleaning and changing bedding” A smirk spread across her face, knowing he had to do what she said. Froggy frowned at the idea but carried on towards the mountain. Forest and Bird sprinted to the base of the mountain, but waited for the others to get there as well. As Quail reached the other two she-cats, she motioned for them to follow up a certain trail, which seemed safer. They all obeyed, and each cat hung onto the rocks as if their life depended on it, which it probably did. Adrenaline pumped through her veins, her muscles aching witch each huge leap. Her long claws gripped the stone securely, as if they were made for such a task. The stone crumbled and fell to the ground each time she jumped in the air to the next ledge, and huge chunks got thrown down almost every time they went back up the gigantic stone. As they got nearer to the top, she got signalled by Forest.

“Uh Quail?... I can hear hissing and yowling from the base...” The dappled she-cat was yowling down at the tiny Claw, who then cursed under her breath.

“Alright. We’ll hurry up to see what’s going on. Now go!” Quail commanded them all, and the group sped up, climbing the mountain at a new level of speed. An ear-splitting yowl broke the silence between the silence between the five cats, and the Carers were skidding down the mountain with small, squeaking scraps of fur between their teeth. One of them lashed their tail to tell them to run and help the others, but Quail ignored them. She just tried to count how many cats were leaving the supposed battle.

“Quail, come on!” Bird tugged at her scruff, trying to get her to move, and at last Quails stiff limbs carried on climbing up. By the time they got there, the fight was in full-blown mode, tufts of fur floating in the air, dust in huge clouds around the edges of the bloody battle. Forest and Bird snarled and rushed right into the most violent part, and Mars took on one of the smaller attackers. Quail saw Pigeon scuffling on the ground with Pebble. Traitor! Quail was yowling in her mind, and she sprinted to where the two toms were nearly killing each other. She barrelled into Pigeon, knocking him off Pebble and slashing his muzzle. Her extended claws did harsh damage, but her opponent didn’t back away. Pebble gave Quail a thankful nod, before running over to one of the other attackers.

“You snake-hearted TRAITOR!” Quail screamed at her enemy, who had been part of her group for more than two moons. She had never expected this to happen, but it had, and it hurt. It felt as if the whole world was turning its back on her, and this attack wasn’t helping. She narrowed her eyes and launched herself at him, claws unsheathed and aiming for his throat, but missing and ending up being the one pinned down.

“You don’t fight so well when you’re angry...” The tom snarled, sinking his claws in her belly. Quail knew these cats didn’t have the same training as her, and their techniques were different, so she took advantage of it. An evil smirk stretched out across her muzzle, and she unsheathed her claws. She put her paws on her opponents shoulders, and dug her claws in, sliding her paws down and hitting deeper as she went down. Her back leg hooked on the toms’ ankle, and as he pulled his claws from Quail’s belly, she seized the opportunity to pull her leg and trip him up. While still recovering, Quail raked at the tom’s sides, leaving huge gashes in his pelt. Quail grinned to herself, and pulled herself further away to catch her breath. What she hadn’t realised was that she had turned her back on her enemy, and he was sneaking up behind her. She was thrown to the ground again, this time on her side, all her limbs held down. She struggled and wriggled, trying to get away, but it was impossible. Then she remembered a technique she was thought when she was just made a Scout. Pretend to surrender..., Then attack she thought to herself. She tried to look as defeated as possible, and suddenly she stopped struggling.

“Fine... I give up...” Pigeon glared at her suspiciously. “Do I really look like I can fight back right now?...” Her opponent grunted, and lifted his front paws, but before he could let Quail go, he was knocked down by Froggy, who rammed him off the small she-cat. Quail hissed, scoring a cut in his shoulder.

“You absolute stone-headed fuzz-brain! Why in Scourge’s sake would you do that?!” She spat, her bicoloured eyes glinting with fury.

“I’m so sorry for saving you from death!”

I had it under control!!” She yelled, her fur ruffled and her fangs shining menacingly. That was the end of the conversation, and Quail quickly turned around to see where Pigeon had disappeared to. She heard loud panting coming from behind her, and realised it was her opponent. Before he could pounce on her, she leapt at him and finally got a good grip of his neck. She pinned him down and held her huge claws to his throat. She leaned down, and whispered in his ear.

“Never... ever... ever... mess with me, or my group...” With that, she dug her claws in his belly and snapped at his throat, not letting go until the body stopped struggling. She glared down coldly at what she had done. She grabbed the dead cat’s scruff and dragged the body to the edge of the mountain. She grunted slightly, and threw the body down the edge, watching it tumble down and down, hitting dozens of rocks along the way.

“Lovely.” She mumbled to herself, half sarcastically, half disgustedly. The rest of the attackers ran down the mountain, some tripping in their hurried retreat. Quail sighed, and lifted a paw to begin cleaning her blood-soaked pelt, when’s he was suddenly bellowed for by Ace. She sighed, and padded to where he was standing.


“Traitor...! You’re a traitor!” He got straight to the point, and was about to burst out of his pelt.

“What? How am I a traitor?!” Quail shivered, partly from anger, because she couldn’t see exactly what she had done to be called a traitor.

{|.:.|} Chapter 12 {|.:.|}

{| Saying Goodbye |}

The two cats circled each other, fur bristling, claws unsheathed and glistening in the dimming pale light.

“How dare you call me a traitor when all I’ve done is try help! You all just saw me kill their leader! How can you accuse me of betrayal?!” Quail was shrieking, her stubbed tail wagging back and forth in sheer anger. She was ready for pouncing forwards to attack her Keeper, not caring what the other cats thought.

“I do dare call you a traitor! For leading those stupid fox-hearts to us! You obviously lead them to us! There’s no other explanation! That imbecile Pigeon had no other contact to us apart from when he dragged you back to us!” His tail lashed furiously, and his ears oppressed against his head.

“What?! How stupid an you be to believe that bunch of fox-dung?!”

SILENCE! You deserve to be punished for your treason!” Quail stood her ground, expecting the tom to hurl himself at her and give her more wounds than the ones she already had, but instead he dived into the crowd of surrounding cats. She watched the near cats hiss, parting away from the slight commotion. A spine-chilling snarl escaped from Cookie, who was protecting Bramble. The tiny kit was shivering, terrified out of her skin. Ace took no notice of the Carer, knocking her over with a swipe of his paw. Corrupted rushed over to grab the kit and protect her, but it was too late. The Keeper had already grabbed Bramble, and was making his way towards the middle of the clearing. Cookie and Corrupted had tired to go after them, but were held down by Kestrel and Snowflake, two of the Third Circle cats. The little kit dangled from the Keeper’s smirking jaws, wriggling and writhing in wasted attempt to get away. Ace stood a few rabbit leaps away from where Quail was, and threw down Bramble, putting a huge paw to stop the kit from getting away, his long curved claws acting as a cage.

“Now... Did you or did you not lead those outsiders to our base?...”

“Let her go! What did the kit do?!” Quail took a few steps forwards, but got a hard warning from Ace.

“Take another step and the kit is gone! Now answer my question!”

“No! I didn’t!” She looked the other cat dead in the eye.

“Fine... If you won’t admit to anything...” His claws tightened around the kit’s neck, and digging past all the matted fur.

“Quail!...” The last, loud squeaky plead echoed in the air, and the kit was gone. The Keeper had finished the job. Quail felt her blood run cold, freezing in her veins. She glared at the dark grey tom, and her whole body burned as if she was standing in the fiercest fire in the whole forest. Her pupils turned to thin slits, and her curved claws almost bore holes in the stone. Her lips drew back to reveal tiny, razor-sharp teeth, lined in an ugly snarl. The Keeper had an eerie, cruel smirk that represented pure evil itself.

“What are you going to to do? Curl up and whimper like a pathetic-!” His sentence was cut off quickly as Quail launched herself at the killer of her adoptive sister, claws outstretched and ready to cut through flesh like the teeth of dogs through its prey.

“ You absolute snake-tongued, fox-hearted, STONE-BRAINED thing I’ve ever met!” She screamed, pinning the larger cat down confidently, her sudden attack unexpected and full of fury. She grunted and shrieked, mindlessly clawing at her victim, who was blocked underneath her slashes. After a while she began to grow weaker, and she finally tried to bite down for the final blow. At this point, Quail didn’t care who got injured, or even died. All she cared about in that moment was to have revenge on the killer of her sister. Quail gnawed at the collar, but it was too thick, protecting his throat, and preventing her to finish the job. After some more struggling to bite through the collar, she was thrown onto her side by one of the Bones, Midnight, and was held down by him and Fern. She wriggled for a few seconds, but eventually gave up, panting like a dog.

“You’re cruel! How could you kill a kit?! She didn’t do anything to you!” Quail was breathing heavily, blood oozing from her mouth and claws. Her nostrils flared, and she let out a cry full of pain. “I hate you!”

“As if I care what you think about me” Ace scoffed, heaving himself up from where he had been suddenly attacked. “All I care is that you obey and respect me” He spat the words in Quail’s face, shoving her chin backwards harshly with his front paw. Quail’s teeth snapped together, and suddenly extra pressure was weighed down on her body. Her collar tugged at her neck, until it snapped and fell away completely. She stared in dismay at Ace, and the collar dangling from his jaws.

“What?....” She whispered, half to herself.

“If you didn’t work it out before, genius, you’re exiled for your betrayal”

She was finally let up, and she quietly padded forwards towards Ace. Quail inhaled deeply, exhaled, and closed her eyes. She knew everyone was staring at her, waiting for her next move, but right now, nothing bothered her except this moment. She unsheathed her claws, and her eyes snapped open. With a growl of frustration, she lashed at the tom’s face, leaving a huge gash where his eye should have been. Ace pulled back, blood dripping down his cheeks. River rushed forwards with something in his mouth, and motioned for Ace to follow him. The Keeper roared at Quail, and she knew she was dismissed. She narrowed her eyes, and she hung her head. Exile, in her group, practically meant a death sentence, especially for her. Although she was the former Claw, she was often beaten in battles due to her small size. Pushing those thought out of her head, she took one last quick glance around the crowd of cats, who all glared at her with cold eyes. With a silent sigh, she leaped down from the top of the mountain, and made her down, away from the home she had known all her life.

{|.:.|} Chapter 13 {|.:.|}

{| Final Farewell |}

Quail felt her paws weakening, and she took her time to get to the bottom of the mountain, knowing this was probably the last time she would ever see it. Her breathing was shaky, and she felt lightheaded. She knew this feeling all too well, and she despised it with every inch of her being. Tears of defeat had marked where she had walked, and splattered on her paws. When she had finally gotten to the ground, it felt rough and harsh against her paw pads, and her scratches stung, but she ignored everything, blocking out the pain. All she wanted right now was to get away. To get away from the betrayal of the only kin she had ever known, the death of a kit she had seen as a sister all her life, the fake parents she had looked up to and seen as role models every moon of her life, the friends she had grew up with side by side, and the fake accusations of her mentor. Those wounds hurt her more than her fresh battle wounds, more than any battle wounds could hurt. She finally stopped walking, and just stood there, in the dark, letting the cold wind blow fallen fur off her shoulders. Quail exhaled shakily, and tried to regulate her quick breathing. She tried to clear her head, but it was almost impossible. Scenes of Bramble’s death flashed in her mind like lightning, and her desperate cry for help rang in her ears, playing over and over again, as if mocking her pitiful defeat. An empty, hollow feeling ate away at her from the inside. A sudden ball of rage burnt in her chest, like the fiercest fire. She vowed for revenge on Ace, for everything he had done to her, for how he had destroyed her whole life in a matter of minutes. The fur on her cheeks was wet and dusty, and her eyes felt heavy, so she just laid her head on her paws. The salty smell and taste of blood burst into her mouth, and she hated it. With another exhausted sigh, and closed her eyes and tried to relax, when she heard something moving towards her. At this point, she didn’t really care what happened, and just opened one of her eyes to glance around. She didn’t see anything so she just closed it again and ignored the noise.

“Quail?...” Her name was called out quietly, a soft whisper that almost seemed as if it blew right past her ears. Quail lifted her head, and squinted in the dark. She could smell something huge coming towards her, but the particular scent was blocked by the scent of her own blood. Instead she just hissed and snarled, hoping it would scare the creature away.

“Calm down!” The voice came towards her, until it was right next to her. She could feel rough fur brushing against her side. Something was set down in front of her, but the item was unrecognisable. Quail stiffened completely, and a strong snarl still rumbled in her throat. By now, she knew it was a cat, and as they sat down her head snapped sideways and bit their paw. Her victim hissed, and crouched down, tucking their paws beneath their chest. Quail’s ears flattened as extra weight was suddenly out on her head. She wanted to get up and run away, but her paws were numb and cold.

“Calm down, I’m not going to hurt you..” Quail still didn’t recognise the voice, and she still didn’t catch their scent, so she just glared at the grey outline above her.

“Get away from me...” She grumbled, hoping to sound menacing.

“I’m not going anywhere. Now calm down and stop hissing at me”

“Fine. Do what you want, but shut up I’ve had a long day.” She mumbled under her breath, before putting her chin on her front paws.

“‘Long day’? How?...”

“If you must know, my whole life got destroyed by a single cat in a single day. I found out that the only kin I ever had wasn’t actually my kin, not related in any way. My brother who I grew up alongside with isn’t my brother. My little sister? Killed in cold blood by my mentor because apparently I’m a traitor! And for what?! Killing the leader of the group who attacked us?!” She hadn’t realised that she had stood up and started crying. “And now... I don’t even have anywhere to go, because I got exiled for supposedly betraying everyone, when all I ever did is try to go by the rules, because I always had the harsh weight of not having full roots in my group!...” By now her voice was slurred and the ground around her paws was damp. She tried to say something else but she just stammered hopelessly.

“Well, what shall I say? I found out that my own father had lied to me my whole life, my little sister got killed as punishment for something someone didn’t do, and my sister and best friend got exiled and probably tortured mentally by someone closest in her life. She got exiled for supposed betrayal, and now seemingly depressed..”

“Fr-Froggy..?” Quail whispered, and her fur prickled.

“Come here..” He extended a paw slightly, and Quail crawled forwards.

“I’m so sorry about Bramble, and that I lashed out at you and I bit you, a-and everything. I was just so shocked and scared because of everything that happened with my attack, and then finding out I had no true kin it was just so... overwhelming” She buried her face in his shoulder, and took tiny sniffs every now and then.

“It’s quite worrying that you stooped down to the point where you would confide in a stranger at this point in your life, but I suppose if you kept more feelings inside of that tiny body of yours, you might’ve exploded” Froggy leaned his head down and put his chin on her head. Quail would normally have snapped at anyone who would have said that, but now she just giggled, happy to finally have someone to confide in after what felt like moons.

“Aside from all that mushy reunion stuff, where will you go now?...” Froggy was trying to clean Quail’s dirty fur, but the blood and mud set so deeply into her fur that it was almost impossible. His words shook Quail, and she paused to think for a long moment.

“I have no idea what I’m going to do, but we both know I’m going to get killed if stick around here. I’ll just have to survive on my own from now on, somewhere far away. You know Ace, he’s persistent. He probably thinks I’m going to have made a nest around here somewhere, and he’s going to send the Third Circle on patrols more often than normal. If he does find any trace that I’ve been here recently, he’s going to send someone to look for me and probably kill me” She spoke with a slight chuckle, and carried on. “Come to think of, I should probably let them kill me”

“No! Just promise me you won’t let that stupid stone-brain kill you, and go find somewhere to stay”

After a few seconds, something clicked. “That’s it! I’ll go to the clans! My parents and ancestors were from clans right? Maybe it’s safer there!” She looked at Froggy hopefully, waiting for approval like a kit.

“But then... It means I won’t see you again?..”

Quail hadn’t thought about this at all, but really whatever she did she wouldn’t see anybody from her group again. Ever. “Whatever I do, I won’t ever see you again. But know this: I will come back, and I will have my revenge. I dine care when, but someday I will” With that, she stood up and backed away from Froggy. The sun started to rise, and she knew by she should have been long gone. “It’s sunrise... I have to go before the patrol comes..”

Froggy nodded. “Yea. So... Goodbye?..”

She couldn’t talk, and her mouth felt dry. She just gave a tiny nod, picked up her broken collar, closed her eyes tight shut and bounded away. Suddenly she paused, and ran back to Froggy. She nuzzled into him, and gave his shoulder one last lick. “You’re always my brother...” She mumbled, half to herself. After short moments passed she turned away and ran into the forest, this time not looking back for even one time. She was done feeling sorry for herself. She was on her way to her new life.

{|.:.|} Chapter 14 {|.:.|}

{| New Beginning |}

Quail breathed in the fresh, cool breeze that ruffled her matted, dirty fur. For the first time in these past two days she could finally relax. Her had cleaned her pelt of blood, but the wounds were still deep and almost all movement made her wounds stung and started bleeding again. She had no idea how to treat wounds, but she was sure that she would eventually have to learn how to. She had to dig up a tiny burrow near a huge waterfall, and had to chase off some foxes, but eventually there was a proper nest inside. Quail had also attempted to fix her collar, and eventually she got the hang of it, although it was looser than normal now. Her fur had gotten matted with mud, but she didn’t really mind. All she was focused on right now was survival, but it was not going to be easy. In the past couple of moons, maybe seasons, the clans had… changed? Quail had gone into the forest a couple of times, but the mountains where her former group resided ere quite far away from the actual forest. The grass at the bottom stretched out near some trees, more of a woodland area rather than the forest. Beyond those trees no cat ever went beyond, because that’s where the true forest was, with all the clan territories. They weren’t afraid of them, but they preferred not to mix with them, because it was as if mixing with kittypets, and that was extremely frowned upon. It was a sign of weakness, and weakness was not tolerated. Quail started wondering why they even had a Currator, since he only helped the Keeper, Claw and kitting Carers. All other ill or severely injured cats were thrown out, banished, abandoned. With a sigh, she carried on her way to her little burrow. She was hungry and her wounds stung, but she took no notice, and crawled into the tiny space she had dug up. Her claws hurt from the process, but she had to admit, she was proud of herself for doing such a good job making it comfy with a mossy nest. Of course, the moss was wet and stank of mould because she had taken it from the rocks near the river nearby, and it also made her fur damp. But this is my new life now she thought to herself, curling up. This action made her wince, and in the end she just lay on her side, not too stretched as to not make her scratches and cuts open even more. Just as she was falling asleep, she heard muffled voices, then laughs, then ‘ooo’s and ‘aaa’s from strangers outside. She had no clue who or what they were, but she wasn’t bothered to get out, hoping that whoever those strangers were would think her burrow was a fox den.

“Hey, what’s over here?” A new voice from the outside questioned others, and Quail could hear that they were close, just outside the entrance. This made her spring to her paws, quietly peaking out. She saw more cats, but they were unknown to her. Clan cats! he cursed in her mind, silently praying they would just ignore her. But, as unlucky as the little she-cat was, a light suddenly made her hiss. More and more light not revealed, until sunlight was fully visible in her pelt. She snarled angrily, unsheathing her claws and taking a battle stance. The clan cats gasped in shock, which made Quail think they were stupid.

“Uh… Hi! Who are you?..” A gentle, dark ginger she-cat approached first, introducing herself. “I’m Appleflight of-“ she was cut off by Quail, who slashed at the she-cats face. A few other cats went by the ginger’s side, as if to protect her. It was clear that the she-cat had no experience fighting, and most of the other cats looked young, about Quails age, maybe younger. She scoffed scornfully, her eyes darting from each cat to the next.

“Who are you, and what are you doing at the Great River? You have no right to be here, rogue!” A dappled she-cat with green eyes hissed at Quail, and Quail just hissed louder, her little fangs glinting. It was quite an eerie look, which spooked a few of the cats, but didn’t scare them away completely.

“Look at her collar! She’s just a kittypet!” a white to, with ginger-brown flecks spat at her. Quail looks more offended than ever, but didn’t speak.

“Speak, kittypet!” Yet another cat commanded her to talk, but she just ignored them. She saw two new figures approaching, and her eyes fixed on them. The clan cats in front of her started howling and hissing at her, but she took no notice. She just fixed on the two new cats. One of them tried to speak to the Appleflight cat, but failed to, while the other carried on a conversation with the two fluffy white cats. Tsk I cant hear anything over these mouse-brains’ bickering! she thought, frowning. A ginger and white tom was about to lunge at her, about to attack, when the white she-cat stepped in front for protection.

“Stop! All right… But how do we help her? She’s got a lot of wounds, you saw it as well, Rabbitfreckle. She’s hurt and she’s wounded badly. She needs help, even if she’s not the most polite cat” The fluffy she-cat spoke confidently, giving Quail cover. So called Rabbitfreckle looked in disgust at her, but muttered something in agreement, then began padding towards the short legged she.

“Not. Another. Step” Quail warned them, a growling edge to her voice. They all backed away, shuddering at her warning.

“Oh yea? Or else what?” An elderly tom scoffed, not threatened.

“Well, I can rip your throat out and make one of your buddies eat it! But let’s not get into that violet stuff, shall we? We all know I can win easily” Quail chuckled, sarcasm and rudeness staining her words.

“Like we believe you ever killed anyone! You’re just a rogue!” A smaller blonde she-cat mewed, laughing at her.

“I have killed before, with ease, I might add. And I suppose I’m a rogue now that I’ve been banished” Quail stared blankly for a moment, but shrugged it off. The clan cats once again looked at her weirdly, until she was ushered away by the white she-cat.

“Don’t worry, I’ll start a proper conversation with her. Now come on”

“Minnowsong, StarClan help me if you get killed” Rabbitfreckle sighed in annoyance, and Quail took note of the she-cats name; Minnowsong.

“Ugh, sorry about them. No manners, no respect. You’re clearly injured” She gave a little gasp at all her scars and now bleeding open wounds. “What happened?!”

“Uh… Not anything you want to know… Anyways..” Quail quickly changed the subject. “Minnowsong, was it?Why are you treating me so nice, when all your other stuck up buddies seem to hate me?” She lifted a small paw and began washing herself, cleaning the muddy grass and fresh blood from her fur.

“Well, you did make a nest in our sacred place, and attempted to attack us” Minnowsong looked at Quail worryingly. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine, these are nothing but simple scratches..” Quail shook her neck, leaning down, letting her collar fall off. She winced slightly, but tried to not show weakness. She shuddered as a tooth from the collar made contact with a gash on her neck, and glanced at Minnowsong o make sure she hadn’t seen.

“Hey,” the white she-cat spoke up. “What’s your name? You know mine, I might as well know yours” Quail paused, looking up from her washing.

“Quail. My name’s Quail” She carried on licking away the smears of blood from her colourless chest fluff.

“Oh! That’s a pretty name”

There was awkward silence between the two she-cats that made them both think what the other was thinking, wondering if it was possible to read what the other was thinking. The silence was broken by Minnowsong.

“Hey, I’ll get Appleflight and Rabbitfreckle to come help you, you shouldn’t have to be in pain” She stood up, heading away.

“Heh, it seems you’re the only one who thinks so… Everyone else wants me dead..” Quail scoffed, resting her head on her small paws. Minnowsong padded away in silence, and after a short while Quail could hear distant chatter, and two cats made their way towards her. She recognised them both, and lifted her head, a smirk appearing on her face.

“Hey! It’s Ginger and Sir Rabbit!” Quail half closed her eyes, and her head turned in the direction they both went to.

“Quiet, rogue. We both don’t want to be here, so drop the act” Rabbitfreckle sat down next to Quail and chewed up some herbs.

“Don’t listen to him. We’re happy to help, it’s our job” Appleflight shot a look at the other medicine cat, and Quail rolled her eyes.

“Hey…, Are you two Currators?” She questioned them, looking at them.

“We’re medicine cats… Uh… Are you feeling all right?” Appleflight had a genuine look of worry in her eyes. Rabbitfreckle rolled his eyes, and applied a poultice to her shoulder. Quail hissed, standing up and slashing her claws.

“What was that?! It hurts more than a fresh wound!”

“Ugh! Sit down, and let us do our job! Stop acting like a kit, and sit through a little pain so that we can actually heal your stupid wounds so you just go away!” Rabbitfreckle yowled angrily, tail wagging back and forth.

“Calm down, and don’t call me kit again. I’m not used to this, I’ve never been treated while awake” Quail muttered the last part, and she took a seat again.

“What… What do you mean?” Appleflight mewed, as she applied more… things to Quail’s wounds. She had no clue what those were, but they stung. Badly.

She sucked air in before beginning. “Have you ever heard of BloodClan?”

The two medicine cats exchanged glances. “Uh… Yes, why?” Appleflight finally spoke.

“Well, let’s just say I’m connected to BloodClan” Quail murmured, scared that they wouldn’t treat her injuries if they knew. But they carried on, listening.

“I… I didn’t actually have roots in BloodClan- I’m clanborn. My mother and father were clan cats, and I was born during the Great Battle between the Forest Clans and BloodClan..”

“If you’re clanborn, then why did you end up in BloodClan?” Rabbitfreckle questioned the small she-cat.

“Both my parents died; my father in the battle, my mother giving birth to me. My other siblings were stillborn, so they’re not around. My mother still gave me a name, all of us. I was Quailkit, but I never knew my siblings names. Anyways, the Currator gave me to another queen who kitted, Silkpelt. She also had one other kit, and took me in… Hey if I’m boring you, you can just leave” Quail turned to face the two medicine cats, whose eyes were wide open.

“No no, continue…”

“Fine. As I said, Silkpelt took me in, but then took me and the other kit to her mate in BloodClan, Corrupted. I don’t know what happened to her, because I actually just know all this from Corrupted. Me and Froggy grew up in this group, which was now leaded by Ace,” she said the name as if it was a sin. “And he now called the group Ranks Matter. I know, stupid name, but whatever. Corrupted made me and Froggy, the other kit, believe that our mother was a honourable BloodClan warrior and died that day, and that he was my real father, Silkpelt was my real mother, and that Froggy was my brother. He later got a new mate, Cookie, and they had Bramble. She was the best little kit ever, always optimistic. I truly believed she was my sister, and everyone actually let me… Anyways, I became the Claw, got this collar and while training my Scout I got attacked. If you’re thinking why didn’t I attack back, it’s because as easily I’ll rip out someone’s eyes, I don’t want to start a fight for nothing, and I was tired. I hadn’t eaten, and I wasn’t used to these new responsibilities. So I nearly got killed. But then this tom saved me and-“

“Awww, and you two fell in love?” Appleflight cooed, only to receive a look from Quail that could make newborn kits yowl and wail in fear.

“How dare you even suggest such a thing?” Quail had seen she upset the she-cat, so she just carried on with the story. “Well, he saved me, but then Froggy, Pebble and Chess found me, thinking he was the attacker. I was taken back to the group, and was treated by Patch, our Currator. A few days passed, and that’s when I found out that I was in fact adopted, a clanborn cat, and had no alive kin. So I just lashed out at everyone, excluding my adoptive kin and even making them do the Bone’s tasks. I knew it was wrong, but I wanted them to feel how I did at the time. Foolish, I know, but I did it anyways. Days later when I was out training my Scout there was an arranged attack on our base, as if someone knew that I’d have the strongest cats with me. So we went back up the mountain, and Pigeon, the tom who saved me, was the leader of the attack. So I knew I had to have revenge, and eventually killed him. That’s when the attackers retreated, and when I was accused of betrayal. That.. That stone-brained piece of fox-dung-“

“Language…” Rabbitfreckle warned her, and she shot him a look.

“Ace said I was the traitor. Me, of all cats. He said I needed to be punished, so…” Quail’s voice cracked, but she continued. “He said I should be punished for treason, so he grabbed Bramble and threatened to kill her if I didn’t say the truth. I kept saying that I wasn’t the traitor, but he didn’t listen to me, so he… He killed Bramble. He killed Bramble because of me, and now she’s dead because of me.” She was now sniffling, but continued nonetheless. “I was exiled, and fought with that imbecile Ace until he finally won, and was exiled. I went into the forest, and here we are” she stopped muttering, silence surrounding them, the only thing breaking it were Quails sniffles.

“We’re so sorry-“ Appleflight began, only to be cut off.

“I don’t need your sympathy! It’s all in the past, and it’s my fault. It’s my fault I didn’t just accept it, and it’s my fault I fought back. That snake-heart should have just left me to die, it’s better than this and no one would have gotten hurt” with that, she put her head on her paws and closed her eyes.