Short story about Rushpaw and how much she wants to be a warrior.
My head snaps up and I immediately start to quaver under Leafswirl's gaze. My mentor doesn't soften, she just growls, "Cherrypaw, Pinepaw, and Fishpaw all managed to catch fishes. Why didn't you?"
I'm surprised that I can come up with an answer without stutters, well not that much anyways. "We-Well I was hunting. And I sorta f-fell into the lake-"
Leafswirl's amber eyes blaze and I flinch, knowing she's going to claw me, but all she does is flick her tail. "Pinepaw, Cherrypaw, Fishpaw, take your catches back to camp and get some sleep."
They pass me. Cherrypaw smirks, Pinepaw looks sympathetic, and Fishpaw just ignores me as though I'm too lowly to be spoken to or looked at.
When they're gone, I wait for Leafswirl to lay it on my but the brown tabby just sighs. "Rushpaw..." I wait for the verbal abuse but it never comes. "Rushpaw..."
"Yes?" I meow fearfully.
"Rushpaw," she meows again. "I've tried to make you into a warrior. You're 9 moons old! In 2 more you should be a warrior!" I sink my claws into the ground, waiting for her lecture.
"But you continue to do badly on each assessment." my mentor looks at me. "Is this some kind of prank? Do you think this is a joke?"
"What!?" I'm so shocked I can't help by half yowl the words. I force my fur to lie flat and sigh. "No....no, it's not a prank."
But I wish it was. I wish it was all just a trick and I could say 'surprise!' and show Leafswirl some awesome advanced fighting move. But it isn't.
She looks stricken as though she's sharing the same thoughts as me. "Rushpaw, I have to be honest...."
Here it comes...
"At the rate you're going I think Streamkit and Mistkit might become warriors before you." she said sadly, naming Flowerface's oldest, 5 moon old kits.
My eyes widen in shock.
I toy around with my fish, not wanting to eat it, not really caring. My claws were so small I couldn't barely even hold onto it enough to play with it.
My mind is full of thoughts of being left behind, Cherrypaw's gloats and Pinepaw's sympathetic murmurs would all just make the whole thing worse. And don't get me started on Leafswirl and my father.
When my mother died, Stormcloud had expected me to become the greatest warrior ever and avenge her death in a great battle against ThunderClan, who had killed her. But it just made me more frightened.
And here I was, 3 moons into my training and told I would be left behind. I threw away my prey and buried my face in my paws. I was so ashamed.
Paw steps in front of my made my head poke up a few moments later.
"Come on." Leafswirl meowed grimly. "Battle training."
Battle training is sort of a joke between me and my mentor. You see, she does the move, and then I flop on the ground. Well it's not really flopping, I mean, my claws are out...and then when the other apprentices are involved it just gets ugly.
Today I had decided to try my best. I didn't have to become a warrior with Cherrypaw, Pinepaw, and Fishpaw. I just wanted to be a warrior before Mistkit and Streamkit.
Leafswirl didn't even try to teach me any moves. She just nodded at the smallest apprentice. "Attack Fishpaw."
I had been so lost in thought I hadn't noticed the other three apprentices staring at me from the rocks that bordered the training grounds. The small silver tabby hopped off his rock and padded over to me.
We both dipped our heads and Leafswirl cried, "Begin!"
I usually liked to take a few moments to take in my enemy, think of a strategy, and then do it, step by step. But today I just hurled myself at Fishpaw. He was surprised, his blue eyes stretched wide.
I had the upper paw, but I was unsure of what to do, so I just kind of tried to stop him form getting up. But he did eventually. What he lost in size he made up for in speed. He could've raced a WindClan cat.
He pummeled at my stomach with his paws weakly, then suddenly flashed them out, kicking me off.
"Oof!" I gasped as I hit the ground. I skidded a few more mouse-lengths then came to a halt. I tried to get up and couldn't it was too much...
Fishpaw let out a victory yowl and I could dimly see Cherrypaw gloating and Pinepaw rushing to my defense.
But the only thing I really saw was Leafswirl shaking her head in disappointment.
"I'll tell you a bit about how I work, then we can go to the territory, ok?"
"Well, I will always judge you on how harde you try, how hard you listen, not by how much you succeed. Remember that."
"I will....can we go to the teritory now?"
I still remembered, 4 moons later. Cherrypaw, Pinepaw, and Fishpaw were all talking about their Warrior ceremonies which they were sure would happen in the next moon or so.
"Rushpaw, c'mon. Special Training."
I really wished Leafswirl hadn't named it that. It meant every cat knew she was going to go get extra help so maybe she could become a warrior with the others. It meant hours of Cherrypaw teasing and the Clan giving me looks and Leafswirl's disappointment taking over her life.
I was still trying hard, but now my heart was out of it. I wanted to be a warrior on pure skill! Not because I had tried soooooo hard and barely scraped by assessments! But still, being a warrior was being a warrior. And that was far more then I was right now. Now I didn't care if Mistkit and Streamkit were made warrior first, I just wanted to be a warrior, period.
Leafswirl led the way out of camp and they passed the training area. "Where're we going?" I asked.
"There've been lots of reports of rogue activity coming form the Twolegplace border." meowed Leafswirl briskly even though I could see the strain in her eyes. "Rumor is they want our territory. We're going to check it out."
I gave a bounce of excitement. "A warrior mission!"
"No," said Leafswirl crushingly, "Grunt work that no one but the lowliest wants to do."
Realization crashed into me. She means me! I stopped walking.
"You told me trying matter more then anything." I meowed, trying to keep my voice steady.
"I thought you would succeed!" hissed Leafswirl who had also stopped. "All of your den-mates are doing fine!"
"Well you could be nicer to me!" I wailed with tears in my eyes.
"You don't get it! This is hard for your father, to have a daughter who will never be as great as him! The Clan has an apprentice who won't ever amount to anything! To your friend for constantly defending you! To me for all the hours I spent with you are being wasted! Why couldn't I have gotten a different-" she paused breathing heavy.
Leafswirl had been horribly harsh and I didn't try to stop the steam of tears coming form my eyes. But my mentor had stopped before she unleashed the real fury.
"You don't want me!" I yowled before I took off running.
I run and run. But like the fail I am, I have short legs so by the time I stopped, panting heavily, I hadn't gone very far. And I looked around and realized with a sinking heart that I had run the wrong way. I was in Twolegplace.
I sighed and desperately started retracing my path, hoping to see the forest. But it was no use, I was lost.
My head jerked up and I reflectively give a hiss. The plump, velvet colored furred she-cat who had talked to me widens her eyes. "Woah, I just wanted to ask if you needed help. You look lost."
I start to growl, then sigh and nod. If she's an evil rogue and kills me, it'll just make things easier.
The velvet-colored cat looks around and gives a mutter of annoyance. "Lance and Clary aren't back. If they aren't here soon I'll have to kick then out..." she notices my inquisitive stare and meows, "Some friends of mine. We have a sort of a.....group. We're looking for territory."
Her fur is soft, her eyes helpful, but I suddenly realize this is a dangerous cat. She knows exactly who I am and where I came from. She wants me to give her RiverClan territory in exchange for taking me to the forest.
Now I know, a loyal warrior would've told her, no way, go home filthy rogue. But you have to keep in mind, my mentor had just listed everyone-the whole Clan practically, as cats who pitied or despised or were disappointed with me.
"I know where you can get some." I hear myself saying. "Take me to the edge of the forest and we can talk."
The she-cat's dark blue eyes widen in delight. "My name's Ella." she tells me. The name is nice, but it has a ring of menace to it. Just like it's owner. "Come on."
We pad through Twolegplace and finally I can see the trees. We arrive at the last border between me and my home-a wooden fence and Ella hops up. I follow and we both sit, staring intently at each other.
"You said about this territory?" inquires Ella.
"Yah...Yah. It's really nice. River and trees and stuff." I say doubtfully at first, but then a plan forming in my mind. "We call it 'Sacred Stones'."
Of course there is no Sacred Stones. The place I'm naming is a piece of land near the Twolegplace that no one ever uses. But the Twolegplace cats are welcome to that.
"You can get it, but you have to do something first." I meow, choosing my words carefully. "My...group I guess you'd call it, likes this land. They'd want to keep it. But they're cowards. If you just show up, pretend like you're going to fight them.....you may actually have to fight some. But they'll back down and you get Sacred Stones!"
It's perfect. I can be the first to spot them. Then we'll 'fight' some and I'll win the battle by hissing a heroic threat as Ella and her friends back out of camp snarling...
"Um...hey? Rshpaw?" I don't know how she knows my name, but I snap back.
"Oh, yah. Um...come tomorrow morning at daybreak. The sun can rise on yuor victory!"
Ella nods, her eyes hungry. "See you there."
She hops off the fence and races off. I hare back to camp.
I get up super duper early the next morning. The camp practically vibrates with snores and Larkwind, who's on guard, is yawning. I pad over to him.
"Hey, Larkwind, if you want to go nap I've got this."
He looks at me doubtfully and I twitch my tail angrily. He seems to notice and meows, "Alright...but if anything happens, let me know."
He pads off to his den, feathery tail streaming out behind him. I sit down happily. Pretty soon Ella will be leading the rogues into the camp....and I'll be a hero!
I hear a twig snap in the forest and I know it's time. "Hello?" I meow. "Who's there!"
In response, a snarling Ella leaps from the bush.
At least 10 rogues follow her, snarling hate and anger at me.
"ATTACK!!!!!!" I yowl. "ATTACK!!!!!!"
Sleepy heads poked out of dens and eyes widened. Pretty soon the camp wqas alive with writhing, screaming cats.
It had begun!
"Good job so far!" I whisper to Ella who has pinned me down. "You guys should get out soon though and Sacred Stones is yours!"
"How dumb do you think I am?" she snarls in contempt. Her claws sink into my shoulders and I struggle in pain. "I'm finishing what I started! And all the forest will be mine!"
It takes a second I don't have to realize what she means. She never meant to help me! She wants everything! She knew I was making Sacred Stones up and she's playing a far more dangerous game with bigger risks. She's even more calculating and deadly then I'd ever imagined.
With that second, she rakes my stomach and I let out a yowl and scrabble at hers. We engage in a furious belly scratching contest, and I discover that she may be deadly, but she's not a Clan cat. She can't fight very well.
"They're weaker then us!" I gasp to my Clanmates. "Get them!"
But it seems unfortunately that getting woken up at daybreak and attacked power hungry rogues had taken it's toll on my Clanmates. I can see at least two still bodies and hope that Goldenpelt can get to them with his herbs soon enough.
Ella springs away from me. I smile and she growls, slashing at my face. Ouch. Leafswirl's words echo in my head. A good warrior never gloats....a good warrior never let's anything distract them.
But I wasn't a good warrior now, was I?
Ella snarls, "You win for now. You Clan cats are fiercer then I'd first thought." she narrows her eyes. "I won't make that mistake of underestimating you again. We're taking the part of your territory that borders Twolegplace. Challenge us if you dare. And make no mistake, we will be back for more."
Then she sprints away, followers chasing after. I turn to my Clan. I had won!
And then I see what my foolish plan has cost me.
The sun is rising on what I have done.
There isn't a cat in the clearing who isn't wounded. And there were 10 rogues. Against all of us! Goldenpelt is rushing around with his herbs but there is grief in his eyes. I spot Sandpaw's body near the medicine den and stifle a sob. Loosing a medicine cat is a horrible blow to a Clan.
Everyone else seems okay....no, wait.
Goldenpelt's eyes fall onto the two cats in the clearing I had seen lying still before. His golden eyes widen and he shoulders his way through the other cats. The first bundle he noses is a dark gray tom. I see his unblinking blue eyes staring at nothing, my blue eyes.
"Stormcloud!" I wail.
But my father doesn't wake. I close my eyes and bury my face in my paws. There's a gasp as Goldenpelt looks at the next cat and I have to peek. My paws fall away form my face and I hear myself crying, "Noo!"
But Leafswirl doesn't stir either. I let out a sob. The two cats I care most about in the world are dead.
"It's okay..." Pinepaw tries to soothe me.
"Get away!" I shriek at him, raking my claws at him. He ducks away but the shock and hurt in his eyes are enough to tell me I won't be forgiven for this.
I let out another cry and look at the sky. The stars are fading, but I can see three cats watching me. A cream she-cat like me with green eyes, this can only be my mother. My father's dark eyes and pelt gleam softly with new stars and Leafswirl's brown pelt is also adorned with the sparkles. All of them look disappointed.
"We're so disappointed in you." My mother's voice is in my head.
"You shoul've known better." Stormcloud chides
But it's LEafswirl's lecture I dread the most. My mentor's leaf-green eyes aren't full of anger or disappointment or sadness as they have always been lately. There's nothing in them.
"Leafswirl?" I ask softly. But she doesn't answer me.
"You disobeyed the Code. You broke it in two and it cost your 3 Clanmates and a wounded Clan. You have made enemies and lost territory. And worst of all, you still think you have won. Not you as in your Clan, but you yourself. You're a selfish kit who doesn't deserve a warrior name. Ever."
Leafswirl has finally spoken, but her eyes and face are still empty of any emotion. This is the worst punishment of all. I start to speak again, but all three cats turn away and pad into the stars.
Meanwhile, in real life, Hawkstar is looking around lividly and with eyes full of pain. "Does anyone know anything or any cat who could have helped cause this?" he growls.
I step foreword and my Clan holds it's breath. This is the she-cat who lost her mother as a kit. The she-cat who just lost the only two other cats she cared about and attacked her friend.
This is the cat who will never be a warrior.
"It was me." I whisper.