Leader: Willowstar- old grey tabby she-cat
Deputy: Fallowbreeze- brown-and-white she-cat with grey eyes
Medicine Cat: Larkwing- silver tabby tom. Apprentice, Daisyflower
Lionclaw- amber tom with amber eyes.
Swallowfoot- pale brown tabby she-cat with black spots.
Blackflame- black-grey-and-white tom with piercing blue eyes
Rainswift- grey-and-black tom
Duckwing- ginger tom
Bubbledrift- silver -and- pale- brown she-cat, Wolfsnout’s daughter. Apprentice, Toadpaw.
Gingerfur- tabby she-cat with bright orange fur and blue eyes. Apprentice, Smallpaw
Songfall- grey tabby she-cat with a white chest.
Flintscale- grey tom.
Daisyflower- slender grey tabby she-cat with long whiskers and green eyes
Smallpaw- small, compact black tom
Birdpaw- Pale she-cat with black ears.
Toadpaw- pale-grey tom.
Littlewhisker- small, well-formed she-cat with a dappled grey coat. ( Mother to Duckwing’s kits, Owlkit- tawny she-kit with grey eyes, Berrykit- tawny tom with white spots and grey eyes. Also mother to Smallpaw from another litter)
Redriver- very beautiful golden-brown she-cat with fiery green eyes. (Mother to Blackflame’s kit, Blazekit- pretty fiery ginger kit with green eyes.)
Frogleap- smoky-grey tabby tom.
Wolfsnout- grey-and-white she-cat, Frogleap’s mate.
Leader: Hollowstar- brown and white tom with blue eyes
Deputy: Blackfeather- Jet black she-cat
Medicine cat: Willowstream- tortoiseshell she-cat with soft fur.
Blueleaf- dark grey tabby tom with green eyes
Quietstream- dainty dappled grey she-cat. Blueleaf’s sister.
Whitehawk- white tom with yellow eyes
Twistfoot- brown tom with one crippled hind leg. Apprentice, Lilacpaw
Yellowbird- silver and white she-cat with bright yellow eyes.
Foxsplash- dark brown tom with amber eyes.
Acornstalk- Sleek, pale brown tabby tom with thin black stripes.
Fenneltail- Pale grey tabby she-cat with white stripes.
Lilacpaw- black and ginger she-cat
Treepaw- tawny-colored tom with green eyes
Featherflight- grey she-cat ( mother to Dovekit- ginger and white she-cat with green eyes, Rosekit- ginger she-cat and Creamkit- cream-colored tom.)
Gingerstorm- beautiful ginger she-cat with green eyes ( mother to Fleckkit- brown tom with white flecks)
Greyfrost- old grey and white tom, half blind
Leopardclaw- black and yellow she-cat, Greyfrost’s mate.
Fire danced from treetop to treetop, the screams of terrified cats echoing in the dawn air. The soft light of early mornings was burnt by fire that seemed to scorch the sky. An old grey tabby she-cat hissed to brown-and-white she-cat.
“ Get the elders, I’ll get the queens. Are all the apprentices safe?” at her deputies nod, the old grey tabby lumbered off towards an overgrown tree stump, shaking her head in wonder at a fire alive near the river. Water! That’s what we need. But there was no time to get it now. Cats must be saved first.
“ Good news, Willowstar! Elders clear! Warriors evacuating.” the deputy announced. Willowstar nodded and turned to the two cats who had exited the tree stump. One was a small dappled grey with two kits, the other an extremely gorgeous she-cat carrying unborn kits.
“ There’s a fire, leave camp immediately. Here, I’ll carry one.” Willowstar stooped to pick up a she-kit from the dappled cat’s litter.
“ We know.” the beautiful she-cat hissed, but followed her leader. The dappled grey cast an anxious look at her kit before darting away between burning tree stumps. She returned later with empty jaws to take her kit.
“ Go safely, Littlewhisker.” Willowstar handed the queen her daughter. Littlewhisker blinked gratefully ad scooped up the wailing kit. Suddenly, the golden-brown she-cat dropped to the floor. She moaned as her body began to convulse. Willowstar’s breath stopped. She knew this cat was giving birth, but in the middle of a fire? How would she live? A handsome black-grey-and white tom sped over, pelt streaked with dirt. His face widened with concern when he spotted his agonized mate.
“ What’s happening? Is it the kits?” Willowstar nodded. He dropped beside his mate and caressed her flank with lavish licks.
“ You can do it, Redriver. Just hurry before the fire devours us.” he joked. The she-cat rolled on her back, her ginger fur blending in with the landscape.
“ Go on without me and save yourself. These kits will take their time.” she growled. Willowstar glanced about anxiously, paws pricking with urgency.
“ We must leave!” she wailed. The tom looked at her, his eyes giving away his own terror.
“ Leave, Willowstar. I can handle this.” he curled himself around his mate and murmured soothingly. Redriver wailed once more as her kits struggled to be born.
“ Where is Larkwing?” Redriver called for the medicine cat.
“ She’s probably evacuated. You’re going to have to do this on your own.” Blackflame shuddered as he saw his mate’s eyes roll back in her head. Redriver kneaded her claws into the dry ground, letting out hacking coughs as smoke filled her nostrils. What a way to give birth. Redriver snorted in grim amusement. She gasped as another spasm wracked her body. Help me, StarClan! Redriver groaned once more, and wailed as Blackflame grasped her scruff and dragged her to the shelter of an old holly bush. He glanced over his shoulder, the flames were nearing. Redriver closed her eyes as agony wracked her once more. The first kit is coming! She narrowed her eyes at Blackflame.
“ Leave. The kit will be born soon, I’ll join you then.” but Blackflame stubbornly shook his head. Redriver focused on not screaming out loud. It’ll all be over in just a bit. Redriver tried to soothe herself, but to no avail. Suddenly, a scream broke out from her throat against her will and laced the crackling air. Her firstborn kit suddenly slid into the world. Redriver groaned. She felt that this was the only kit in her litter and there were no more. Blackflame was watching, the wonder in his eyes as he gazed at his daughter was astounding. Redriver purred at his expression. Blackflame reached out a claw to poke the fiery-brown kit that had began to wail. His gaze melted at her cry.
“ We must leave now.” he grabbed his daughter up by the scruff and helped Redriver to her feet. Redriver’s legs wobbled with exhaustion and her eyelids drooped, but she forced herself to stay on her feet. Blackflame allowed her to lean into his shoulder and they set off across the fiery camp, skirting around clumps of burning bushes. Suddenly, a dull roaring filled their ears. A massive wall of fire erupted out of nowhere, streaming in their direction. Blackflame’s eyes widened with horror, he shoved the kit into Redriver’s mouth.
“Go!” he wailed, shoving her with his nose. Redriver stumbled away, but the fire bore down on them, hissing cruelly. Blackflame suddenly stopped. There was another wall of fire that led to the camp entrance/exit. A small gap stood between two clumps of burning fern, enough for one cat to squeeze through. Redriver glanced over her shoulder, the wall of fire reared above them like a snake. Blackflame nudged her towards the gap.
“ There’s only room for one cat.” he whispered. Horror pulsed through Redriver and she wailed like a kit.
“ No! I’ll stay with you forever!” she pressed against his side. Blackflame gently drew away from her, his eyes glistening with grief but hardened with determination.
“ You must live. You and our kit.” he pressed his cheek against hers. I don’t care about the kit! I want you! Redriver tried to scream, but her throat choked the words. Blackflame guided her to the flames.
“ Hurry.” his voice was calm facing death. Redriver numbly walked through the fire, too numb to acknowledge the fact that the fire didn’t burn her kits outstretched tail. She turned around just in time to see Blackflame stare at her, his eyes full of love and sorrow.
“ See you in StarClan.” he murmured.
“ And to you.” Redriver’s jaw moved of it’s own accord. She glanced away just before the fire roared once more and darkened Blackflame’s eyes forever.
Got you! her paws thumped down on the blue-green beetle, squishing it flat. Her kits paws weren’t as strong as Owlkit’s, but Blazekit would say she was pretty decent at catching insects. She turned away and dropped her beetle on the small pile they had gathered outside the nursery. The large aancient willow had been much bigger, but the fire had charred away almost half of it. That’s what Owlkit says, at least. Blazekit secretly admired the charcoal-colored bark, the black that smelled of smoke was artwork to her. Some cats said she was born in a fire, others didn’t. Blazekit didn’t know who to believe. Redriver hasn’t told me, at least. Blazekit thought bitterly. Her mother hadn’t told her anything about the world, it was Owlkit’s mother who had mothered Blazekit. Littlewhisker told her stories, fed her milk and played with her. In addition, Littlewhisker was the only cat who didn’t look at Blazekit with pity when Redriver walked by.Blazekit could only think of Littlewhisker as her mother.
“ D’you think that’s enough beetles? I know it’s more than Five” the elders had taught her that word. Five meant Two and Two and one more. There were five cats in the nursery, Blazekit, Littlewhisker, Redriver, Owlkit, and her brother Berrykit. Owlkit’s golden-brown coat caught the soft sun-rays and her grey eyes studied the beetle pile critically. Blazekit liked to think of Owlkit as her sister, and how she wished she had a sister! Maybe Redriver wouldn’t be so hard to deal with if she had a littermate.
“ I think so.” Owlkit said carefully. “ here she comes.” at last! A chance to show my mother what a good warrior I’ll become! Blazekit kneaded the ground beneath her tiny claws. It was soft and muddy, RiverClan’s camp was always this way. A hunting patrol had just entered the sedge gateway, the tang of fish on them. I can’t wait to eat fish! her belly grumbled at the thought of sinking her teeth into the shiny scales. Blazekit dreamed of the day when she could catch her own prey. Of course, it’ll have to go to the elders and kits but still...she sighed with longing. In the lead was Songfall, the grey scales of her trout matching her stone-colored pelt. Next was Owlkit’s father Duckwing, the ginger tom was carrying two fish Blazekit had never seen before. They were ginger-and-white with tiny black flecks. Following Duckwing was Songfall’s brother, Flintscale. He carried a plump carp. Behind him was Blazekit’s own mother, Redriver. Every kit in the clan thought their mother was the most beautiful, their father the most handsome. But Redriver really was the most glamorous she-cat in RiverClan. Her golden-brown pelt was sleek and shiny, contrasting pleasantly with fiery-green eyes that shone. Redriver’s tail was elegantly curved, visible were only the palest tabby stripes. Her head was finely shaped and proud, with well-defined ears and snout. Her hips and shoulders were finely set, and she walked with a regal bearing. Pride filled Blazekit when she thought of how pretty her mother was, even more when she realized Redriver had caught the most fish in the patrol. She’s a great hunter! I’m going to be like her one day. Littlewhisker shambled over to Duckwing and sniffed his catch.
“ Looks good.” she observed. Duckwing purred.
“ I think we can use one to give Owlkit and Berrykit their first taste of prey.” Owlkit let out a whoop and raced towards her father, followed by Berrykit. They were already four moons old, two moons elder to Blazekit. She ignored the feeling of jealousy stirring within her and searched for Redriver. The she-cat had set down her four fish and was heading towards the nursery. Blazekit scampered over to her beetle pile and called out proudly to her mother.
“ Look, Mama! I caught all these beetles! Well, Owlkit helped a little bit-” Redriver let out a contemptuous snort and flashed out a leg. Blue, green and black flew through the air and rained around Blazekit.
“ Come on and get your milk, kit. Stop trying to show off.” Redriver snarled. Dissapointement dropped in Blazekit’s belly like a stone. She sighed and began to gather the scattered beetles as Owlkit trotted over. Her eyes were dark and she wordlessly began to scoop up the beetles with Blazekit. When they had a shabbier version of the older pile, Blazekit meowed
“ I don’t think there were enough beetles.”
“ Maybe.” Owlkit muttered darkly. “ I don’t think Redriver adores beetles.”
“ Then let’s use flowers!” Blazekit squealed. She raced to a small dandelion and tugged it out of the soil. Owlkit nipped the stem off a half-dead daisy and gave it to her.
“ This’ll make her happy!” Blazekit wriggled through a whole in the log and slunk over to Redriver’s nest. The golden queen was muttering to herself and washing her shoulder rapidly. Blazekit took a deep breath and approached her mother.
“I picked these for you, Mama.” Blazekit gently laid the flowers next to the wide gold head. Redriver sniffed them once and let out a sneeze. She whipped herself around and glared at Blazekit.
“ In the first place, I’ve never been fond of flowers. In the second place, I’ve never been fond of kits who whine and disturb cats. Put both together...” she bared her teeth. Blazekit shrunk away, her mother’s words ringing in her ears.
“ I-I’m sorry.” Blazekit picked up the flowers and headed out of the nursery.
“ Don’t come back!” Redriver snarled. “ I never wanted kits in the first place.” Blazekit bowed her head and backed away. Redriver really doesn’t love me. a wail rose up in her throat. Stop! Stop crying! Be a warrior! Redriver can’t bother you. she repeated the words over and over, but while they chased away the pain they left an open wound. Blazekit headed towards the reed bed, anger stirring within her as warriors turned to stare at her. A black-and-grey tom’s eyes filled with pity and he walked over to her.
“ Little one, why don’t you get some rest...” Blazekit raised her hackles, fury igniting. Doesn’t anyone see that I’m not helpless? Suddenly, a dappled grey storm exploded in f r\ont of Blazekit’s eyes.
“ Leave her alone, Rainswift.” a familiar voice murmured. Littlewhisker! She doesn’t have to defend me! but when her foster mother turned towards her, Blazekit felt gratitude well within her. No sympathy and pity filled Littlewhisker’s eyes, only love. Littlewhisker dipped her head to Blazekit and turned away, padding towards Duckwing who looked at her disapprovingly. Blazekit returned her march, padding to the edge of the reed-bed. No one was there, and Blazekit solemnly placed her flower bundle on the muddy-blue water. The flowers seemed to blend in with the surface.Blazekit picked up a shiny red stone, then placed it on top of the flowers. She watched as they slowly sunk underneath the surface, vanished forever. Then forcing herself not to sob, Blazekit tore away from the reed-bed and raced to the edge of the camp. She squeezed under a canopy of overgrown ferns and threw her paws over her head, trying not to picture Redriver’s cold eyes.
“ Why do you think Redriver hates me?” Blazekit asked Owlkit. She tore at a stray leaf with her claws. They were almost full-grown, as she was four moons old with only two left to become an apprentice. Blazekit had been born in the lukewarm winds of new-leaf, the green-leaf heat was agonizing. She stretched out in the shade of their secret meeting place, a large overgrown clump of sedge in the corner of camp. A small stream trickled through the center, Blazekit lapped at it thirstily. Owlkit glanced up sharply, ears flat.
“ What do mean?” she hissed.
“ Don’t try and hide it from me.” Blazekit propped herself up and glared at her best friend. “ I know she doesn’t like me, and I want to know why.”
“ Hate is a strong word.” Owlkit remained defensive.
“ Hate, dislike, whatever. I just want to know why my mother treats me like a dead squirrel.” Blazekit growled back. Owlkit shifted her paws and sighed. She fixed her luminous grey eyes on Blazekit bright own and ran her tongue over her jaw.
“ I shouldn’t tell you this.” Owlkit sighed.
“ Please.” Blazekit begged.
“ Fine! But if anyone yells at us, you made me do this.” she took a deep breath. “ You’ve probably heard that you were born in a fire.” at Blazekit’s nod, Owlkit continued. “ Well, you were. RiverClan had to evacuate camp, but your mother began to given birth. Your father, Blackflame-”
“ I had a father!?” Blazekit’s eyes widened.
“ Every kit has one. Anyways, Blackflame stayed behind to help her. She kept telling him to leave, but he wouldn’t. When you were born, they began to exit but Blackflame was killed. Redriver barely escaped, but apart from charred fur she carried one thing back from the ordeal... hatred for you. She blamed you for being born, which made her mate stay behind with her and die.” Owlkit finished her tail. So that’s it! Blazekit’s mind whirled. But her shock was quickly replaced buy fury. What a dumb reason to hate your kit for! She shook her head as if to clear her racing thoughts.
“ Were there...did I have any-any siblings?”
“ No. You were the only kit.” Blazekit stared at the ground, trying to drink in all this information. She took a deep breath and stood up.
“ Thank you for telling me that, Owlkit. Say, do you want to play Fox Escape?” Blazekit meowed. Owlkit shifted her paws again and for the first time today Blazekit noticed something different about her. Excitement? Apprehension? To her dissapointement, Owlkit shook her head.
“ No thanks.”
“ Why not? You always said Fox Escape was your favorite game.” Blazekit whined.
“ It’s not sophisticated.” Owlkit grumbled.
“ For who? You’re still a kit!” Blazekit argued back. Owlkit’s eyes brightened at this, and a purr erupted form her throat.
“ Not for much longer! I’m becoming an apprentice!” she chirped. No! Blazekit jumped to her paws, belly churning in disbelief.
“ I’m six moons old, silly!” Owlkit teased. I know that! I meant the other why...
“ Oh? So now your a big cat, too old to have fun. Too old to play kit games, old enough to use big words like sophisticated...” Blazekit circled Owlkit.
“ What do you mean? Are you jealous that I’m older than you?” Owlkit sneered.
“ Of course not!” Blazekit spat. “ but why are you in such a hurry? You just turned six moons two sunrises ago! And don’t think I haven’t noticed you eating with the apprentices, snob.” Suddenly, Owlkit whirled around and raked her claws across Blazekit’s ear. An unfamiliar ringing erupted form then and she gasped. This was no play fight! Owlkit was crouching down across the stream, eyes flashing.
“ That’ll teach you to call me a snob!” rage as thick as Littlewhisker’s pelt filled Blazekit until she thought she would burst.
“ You are one!” Blazekit screeched. She kicked off strongly from the ground and landed on Owlkit’s back. The tawny kit was caught with surprise and fell under Blazekit’s weight. Blazekit neatly leaped free from Owlkit’s back as the ginger she-kit reared up powerfully. Swift as a snake, Blazekit slithered under Owlkit’s belly and kicked it with her hind legs. Gasping, Owlkit fell sideways, but she raised her claws long enough to deflect a scathing blow from Blazekit.
“ Mouse-heart!” Owlkit charged her and lunged at Blazekit’s flank. Blazekit twisted but not fast enough. She heard a tiny scraping sound and Owlkit’s teeth grazed her haunches. Pain like she hadn’t known before shot from Blazekit’s behind. A stranger, tangy scent filled the air and dark liquid spread from a gash in her leg turning her ginger fur brown. Blazekit shook and turned around, she knew that this substance must be Blood. Blazekit slowly turned to face Owlkit, her friends eyes were wide with horror.
“ Blazekit, I-I’m so sorry. Here, let me lick it and it’ll get better-” Blazekit swung her aching hind legs away from Owlkit’s tongue.
“ Don’t touch me!” Blazekit’s meow quavered. With a sense of horror, Blazekit realized she was afraid of Owlkit. “ Fox-heart!” she wailed and ran from the ferns, tearing across camp. A dappled pelt caught her eyes.
“ Littlewhisker!” Blazekit threw herself towards a she-cat sunning herself in a warm patch of sunshine. Littlewhisker lifted her head in surprise as Blazekit buried her face in Littlewhisker’s thick pelt.Blazekit inhaled Littlewhisker’s soft scent, her tense shoulders relaxed. She felt a sudden dampness on her wound as Littlewhisker’s nose sniffed it.
“ What happened to you, sweet one?”
“ I got hurt.”Blazekit whimpered.
“ Oh?” Littlewhisker smelled the wound once more. Her eyes darkened. “ What happened? Was Owlkit there?” She smells her daughter! Blazekit looked away, heat fluttering. She forced herself to meet Littlewhisker’s eyes.
“ I’I stumbled and fell on a sharp st-tone. Owlkit w-was there. She tried to lick it, to-to make it better. But it didn’t work.” Blazekit stuttered. She couldn’t believe she was lying to defend Owlkit. Littlewhisker’s tongue swished smoothly over her wound, dulling the throbbing ache. Blazekit half-closed her eyes, pressing closer to her foster mother.
“ Owlkit’s leaving. You to. You’re going to move back to the warrior’s den and leave me alone in the nursery with Redriver.” she chocked. Littlewhisker glanced up sharply and then returned to her licking.
“ Hush, sweet pea. I’d never leave you, not ever. We’d never leave you, no matter what. Tell you something...” she leaned in closer. “ I’ll let you sleep with me in the warrior’s den with me sometimes.”
“ Really?” Blazekit’s heart pounded with delight.
“ Really.” Littlewhisker purred. Blazekit ducked under her chin and tipped her head back to the sky.
“ That cloud looks like a fish!” Blazekit pointed with her claw. Littlewhisker glanced up at the puffy shape and then back at Blazekit.
“ I’ll teach you to fish, if you’d like.” Littlewhisker offered.
“ I’d like!” Blazekit squealed, the ducked her head in embarrassment at her words. A purr rumbled in Littlewhisker’s throat and she padded off towards the reed-bed. Blazekit followed, delighting at the sensation of her paws squelching in the mud. The soft swish of reeds dragging over water soon filled Blazekit’s ears. Her heart thumped in excitement as she spotted the deep puddles of water. Littlewhisker took her place at the bank where small waved lapped at the muddy ground.
“ Okay, watch me. Fish are very quick, so you must hold still. Don’t even move a whisker, or it’ll know.” Littlewhisker warned. Blazekit nodded solemnly and copied her position. Her tensed haunches felt awkward, and at once Blazekit felt like shifting her paws. She could see silver flicks as minnows darted swiftly in the shallows. Why can’t we just reach in and get them? she grumbled to herself. Littlewhisker’s eyes were fixed on the unmoving surface, she seemed as still as stone. Worried, Blazekit sniffed the air. Good. She’s still alive. She turned her attention back to the water and stiffened. A small grey shape was nearing Littlewhisker’s paws. Littlewhisker showed no sign in her body, but Blazestar saw a flicker of triumph in her eyes. Suddenly, a fly buzzed by and sat on Blazekit’s nose. It’s tiny legs tickled her rough muzzle and she yelped, shaking her head vigorously to get it off. There was a splash and a low growl in Littlewhisker’s throat. The minnow had gotten away. “ Blazekit! I told you to stay still!” she hissed.
“ I did! There was a fly on my nose!” Blazekit whined, scuffling at the ground with her paws. Hot shame burned through her pelt. Littlewhisker sighed. She crouched back down again. “ We’ll just have to wait some more.” Blazekit crouched beside her, sad. I disappointed Littlewhisker. But I can make up for it! she began to raise her head but stopped herself just in tim. She glanced in frustration at the minnows flicking just out of her reach. Why can’t we just jump in and get them? The water’s only as high as my paw. When I stick it in here it only goes to about my ankle. Besides, all RiverClan cats have to learn how to swim sometime. Blazekit slowly inched away. Littlewhisker grunted but didn’t say anything. “ I’m gonna jump in and get the minnows.” Blazekit announces. “ I’m going to make up for you missing that fish.” at this, Littlewhisker lifted her head. She put out a paw to catch old of Blazekit’s tail.
“ That’s okay, sweet pea. You made a mistake, and you’ll learn. But don’t jump in and get the minnows. You’d drown! The water is deeper than it seems.” Littlewhisker warned. Blazekit wriggled away.
“ No, its not okay! And besides, the water’s only up to my paw!” Blazekit crouched down, ready to spring.
“ Blazekit, no!” Littlewhisker snarled. “ you’ll drown and die!” she reached out a paw, but it was too late. Blazekit had already leapt, plunging headfirst into the murky water.
Brown exploded all around her. It felt so natural. The water curled and twisted around her body, making her a part of it. She felt so graceful and free, not bulky on land as she now thought of it. She stretched out a paw. No water resisted it, her claws sliced through the soft substance. Where are all the minnows? she wondered. They had all scattered, leaving her alone. So that’s why RiverClan cats don’t jump in and fish. The fish want to play hide-and-seek! Well, I can’t play now. I’d better get up and tell Littlewhisker I couldn’t find any. She tilted her head up. Suddenly, a pain filled her chest. She didn’t know what is was, but that she needed air. And a deep instinct inside of her knew that there was no air in here. Panic surfaced into her throat. She opened her mouth and gasped. Water flooded in. She opened her mouth to cough, and more entered. Pain and anxiety clouded her thoughts. She lost sense of direction. Her head spun. In that one moment, she knew she was going to die. What will Redriver think? her last thought flashed across her mind before the world turned black.
A tom was staring at her. His blue eyes pierced right deep into her soul. His coat was unintelligible in the dark, but Blazekit could faintly make out white flecks on his fur. Somehow the strange strength of his blue gaze filled her with warmth. You will live! the words rang out in her mind. Blazekit frowned. How? I’m already dead! she replied. Her body felt as still as stone. A loud purr rumbled from the tom. He didn’t move, but she felt a pelt pressing around her. Not yet. Not yet, my kit. StarClan has given you your chance. Use it well, for it is your last. Then the tom disappeared and Blazekit’s world went dark again.
Slowly, she blinked her eyelids. The sudden brightness made them water and sting. Blazekit lifted her head and then dropped it back again. It felt like a rock. She opened her jaws and breathed in the scent of RiverClan. She gasped at the pain that erupted in her chest and coughed.
“ Little one?” came a soft meow. A grey face bent close to hers and green eyes gazed deep into her own. “ are you awake?”
“ Daisyflower?” Blazekit murmured.
“ Your awake! I’ll get Littlewhisker, and er, Redriver.” Daisyflower hastily scrambled out of the medicine den entrance. A heartbeat later, another cat darted in- a loud purr rising in her throat. Blazekit’s heart lifted.
“ Littlewhisker!” she cried. Littlewhisker darted over to Blazekit and began to lick her head lavishly
“Oh my sweet pea, I thought you were dead!” she chocked. Blazekit looked up at her, confused
“ What happened to me?’ she whispered. Littlewhisker’s eyes clouded.
“ You jumped in the minnow pool and drowned. It took all of Larkflight and Daisyflower’s efforts to heal you,” she said. Before Blazekit could reply, another cat stuck their head through the entrance.
“ Mama, can I come and see Blazekit now?” the tawny-colored head asked.
“ Owlkit!” Blazekit cried. Owlkit burst into the den and squealed
“ You’re alive!” she cheered. Blazekit snorted playfully and butted her on the shoulder.
“ Of course I am!” Owlkit pranced around, tail high in happiness. Littlewhisker touched her daughters nose affectionately and padded out. Owlkit crouched down and swished her tail playfully across the floor. Blazekit was happy. She had seen the cats she loved the most, Littlewhisker and Owlkit, yet someone was missing. A tiny part of her soul longed for her mother, the mother who hated her yet was still a mother nonetheless.
“ Owlkit?” Blazekit began, but was stopped.
“ It’s Owlpaw now,” she meowed quietly.
“ Oh. Owlpaw, can you get Redriver?” Blazekit looked up with pleading eyes. Owlpaw scuffed her paws against the ground.
“ I-I guess.” why is she so nervous? Owlpaw slowly exited the medicine cat’s den. Her tail-tip twitched uncomfortably, and her pelt was fluffed out slightly. Blazekit waited. She knew Redriver wouldn’t fawn over her, but at least one or two comforting words would be nice. She kept waiting. Why wasn’t Redriver coming? She craned her neck, trying to see outside the den entrance. She couldn’t see anything. Slowly, Blazekit extended a trembling paw over the edge of the nest. She heaved her aching body upwards and stepped towards the den entrance. Her legs were trembling, her head-swimming. But she could see two pelts, Owlpaw’s tawny one and Redriver’s golden one, standing together at the edge of the clearing. Owlpaw’s tail was waving in distress. Blazekit slowly padded out of the entrance. She had to hear what they were saying. Her paws felt like trees, heavy and bulky. She ducked under the cover of somme ferns and slunk closer to her mother. She stopped when she could clearly hear their conversation.
“... please,” Owlpaw pleaded “ she really wants to see you.” Redriver let out a contemptuous snort.
“ But I don’t want to see her.” Redriver said.
“ Redriver, you have to! She’s sick and weak, seeing her mother might make her feel better.”
“Well get Littlewhisker to see her. I really couldn’t care less. She should have drowned! ” No! My mother thought I should have died. Blazekit began to shake. Owlpaw spat at Redriver’s feet.
“ Do you even have heart? Don’t you even care for your only kit?” Redriver’s eyes widened. She bent her muzzle close to Owlpaw’s ear.
“ My heart tore the day Blackflame died. And the day that kit made him stay behind.” with that, she stalked away. Redriver! Redriver, come back! Redriver! Blazekit’s mind whirled. A sob broke from her throat. Owlpaw whipped around and drew the ferns aside with her tail.
“ Blazekit! What are you-” she gasped in astonishment. Blazekit barged past her and stumbled across camp. She was half blinded with pain and sorrow. My mother- my mother truly hates me. She want me dead! Blazekit collapsed near the reed bed. Stop it! Stop being such a baby! She never loved you, face it. So what? You have Littlewhisker and Owlpaw. Redriver isn’t your mother. Littlewhisker is. Forget about Redriver. She’s just another warrior in this clan. Forget. Forget. Forget her! The lightning that crackled in the distance mirrored Blazekit’s feelings inside.
“ Blazepaw! Blazepaw!” came the loud cheers of her Clan. Blazepaw puffed out her chest proudly. Littlewhisker’s eyes glistened as she yowled Blazepaw’s name to the sky, and Owlpaw bounced up and down in delight. Willowstar purred and gently bent down to lick Blazepaw’s head.
“ Blazepaw, I know you have not had an easy kithood,” she began. Blazepaw winced at the memory of Redriver’s words, still thorns lodged in her heart. The ginger she-cat was sitting at the edge of the camp, flatly refusing to call out her daughters name. “ however, I think you will be a great warrior.” Really? Blazepaw’s heart swelled with pride. She dipped her head to Willowstar and scrambled down to Littlewhisker and Owlpaw.
“ I have a present for you” purred Owlpaw. She handed over a shiny shell, that smelled deliciously of the river. “ you can weave it into the top of your den.” Blazepaw butted her flank playfully with her head.
“ Thank you so much!”
“ I wish I was your mentor. But Flintscale is a good cat, and a strong warrior.” Littlewhisker meowed.
“ I’m glad to hear it.” boomed a deep voice. Blazepaw whirled around and saw a large stone-grey tom standing over her.
“ Flintscale?” she gasped. He chuckled and softly cuffed her ears.
“ Thats’s me. Do you want to tour the territory now? Afterwards, we can learn some battle moves- or hunting, whatever you choose.” Blazepaw liked him immediately. He had a cheerful twinkle in his eye, and an amused edge to his voice.
“ Sure!” she purred and bounced around happily. Flintscale nodded to Owlpaw
“ Why don’t you ask if you and Songfall can join us later?” he meowed. Owlpaw nodded in delight and sped off. “ Come on, Blazepaw.” he ordered and headed towards the entrance. Littlewhisker licked her ear and then trotted away. Blazepaw’s paws fizzed with excitement. She was going out of camp! Just before she reached the exit, Blazepaw felt a pair of eyes boring into her flank. She turned around. It was Redriver. The she-cat dropped her gaze and abruptly walked away. Blazepaw shrugged off the feelings that were churning inside of her. I don’t care about her anymore. She is not my mother.
“ Blazepaw?” came Flintscale’s call.
“ Coming.” she darted through the sedge and burst outside of camp. Outside! I’m free! she gasped. There were so many scents, and sky was so big! Flintscale let out an amused mrrow.
“ Amazing, isn’t it?” he asked. Blazepaw nodded. “ Come on, I’ll show you around.” he padded away. Blazepaw followed him, tail-lashing happily. He walked through marshy grounds, pebbly shores and much more, pointing out different landscapes and different ways of catching prey. He paused at a tangle of slender willow trees.
“ This is a very small section of forest in our territory. We don’t usually hunt forest prey- but its useful to know how incase something happens to the river.”
“ What could possibly happen to the river?” Blazepaw snorted. The river was so giant and ever=lasting, could something defeat its power?
“ Lots of things. Sometimes there is a drought, and the river dries up. Sometimes Twolegs come along and poison it. You never know.” he replied. Blazepaw was shocked. She followed Flintscale, listening as he paused once or twice to point out something. Finally, he stopped and shook out his pelt.
“ You are about to see one of the most famous landmarks on RiverClan territory,” he announced. There was a layer of sarcasm in his voice, tainted with sorrow. Blazepaw was curious.
“ What?” she asked. Flintscale sighed and simply moved aside the ferns with his tail.
“ Behold Sunningrocks.” he grunted. The calm, blue water lapped slowly at hard brown stone in a spot of sunlight. She recognized the grey-and-white pelts of Wolfsnout- an elder- and her mate, Frogleap sunning themselves and flicking their tails lazily. So this is Sunningrocks. These pieces of stone had been fought over since before the elders mother’s were kits. Flintscale sighed.
“ Long ago, these rocks were in the center of the river. Only RiverClan bothered to swim and reach them, and we claimed them for our own. Then the river changed course and the rocks were washed against ThunderClan’s shore. Those snake-hearts claimed it for themselves! And many battles have been fought over those rocks ever since. We have them for now, but not for long with ThunderClan pressing at our borders.” he explained. Blazepaw bristled and dug her claws into the soft earth.
“ ThunderClan! Why can’t they keep their greedy paws off our territory?” she growled. Flintscale snorted.
“ They’d say the same for us. Come on, lets see if Songfall and Owlpaw are going to join us.” he darted away. Before he got far, the grass began to tremble. Blazepaw recognized Owlpaw’s scent, and Songfall’s soft grey fur. She bounded over to Owlpaw’s side and purred.
“ How’s your first time outside of camp?” Owlpaw asked.
“ Amazing! RiverClan territory is so big!” she replied happily. Owlpaw puffed out her chest.
“ I’ve been learning water- fighting skill!” she boasted. Blazepaw tipped her head to one side. “ Really? It sounds like fun.”
“ It is! Hey, why don’t you ask Flintscale if you can join us?” she suggested. Blazepaw darted over to her mentors side.
“ Flintscale, can I do water-fighting with Owlpaw?” she pleaded. Flintscale twitched his ears “ please?” she added. He sighed.
“ Fine. But very, very basic ones, you understand? I haven’t trained you very well in swimming yet.” he cautioned. Blazepaw leapt into the air in delight. She hared away after Owlpaw, kicking up loose dirt and leaves in her wake.
“ Wait up!” yowled Flintscale, sprinting behind her. Blazepaw slowed down as Owlpaw settled into a trot. She sniffed the air. It smelled tangy, like the river and deliciously of fish. Owlpaw ducked through soft, long ferns and halted beside a pebbly slope. She let out a purr
“ Come on!” there was a splash as she dived nimbly into the water and gasped. “ Cold!” Blazepaw crouched down, ready to spring. She hesitated. Memories of nearly drowning flooded her head and terror gripped her heart when she looked down at the water. Frog-brain! You are RiverClan cat! And besides, you didn’t know how to swim then. Blazepaw took a deep breath and launched herself into the river. Her feet hit the muddy bottom and she unsheathed her claws to get a better grip. The lake was still today, with only the softest of currents swirling around her legs. Still, it was different from the calm reed bed where she learnt how to swim. Blazepaw cautiously extended a paw. It felt fine. She kicked off from the ground, and glided in the blue-green water, purring in delight. It’s amazing! How could I have ever been afraid? Owlpaw was darting around like a minnow in front of her. Her fluid swimming was more graceful than Blazepaw’s choppy strokes. I’ll learn. For now, she was just happy to be in the water. Behind her, Flintscale and Songfall dove in hardly making a splash. Flintscale pushed towards her, leaving small waves lapping in his wake.
“ Let’s get started. Blazepaw, can you stand?” at her nod, he beckoned Owlpaw and Songfall closer. “ the most basic move is called the Double- Front- Paw Slap-Down. It goes like this,” he reared back and brought his front paws down heavily on the surface. A wall of water erupted before her face and she turned away. “ You try.” Songfall urged. Blazepaw gritted her teeth and reared just as Flintscale had done. She brought her paws down on the water, wincing at the slight sting in her pads. A large wall of white erupted in front of her, sending powerful currents through the river as it fell back down. Flintscale gave her an approving purr.
“ Very good!” he praised. Blazepaw puffed out her chest proudly. “ Come on, its time we head back to camp. You can pick a nice juicy piece of fresh-kill- tomorrow you’re going on the dawn patrol!” Flintscale took in a huge breath and dove underwater. Blazepaw watched, fascinated, as his lean shape shimmered below the surface and burst out of the water near the bank. It’s over already? Blazepaw felt a pang of dissappointment. Still, she waded towards the stony shore and scrambled out, shaking her bright ginger pelt and spraying droplets everywhere.
“ Bye Blazepaw!” called Owlpaw. Blazepaw waved her tail in farewell and skipped after Flintscale as he lead the way back to camp. As she ducked under the familiar sedge entrance, she suddenly felt bone-tired and stifled a yawn. Flintscale watched her sympathetically.
“ You must be exhausted. Show me your paws” she lifted them up. The soft black pads were cracked and held flecks of blood. “ They aren’t used to this sort of exercise. Soon, they’ll look like mine.” Flintscale showed her his own tough grey ones. “ go to the medicine den to get them treated. See you tomorrow!” he bounded away. Blazepaw watched his strong outline and muscles that were hard underneath his pelt. All the other warriors were like that, strong and powerful. Will I ever be like that one day? suddenly, six moons of training seemed like a long time. A bright ginger pelt flashed at the edge of her vision. Redriver was ducking into the warriors den. Blazepaw stopped. She dug her claws into the ground and fluffed out her pelt. It had been such a great day that Blazepaw hardly had time to think about Redriver. But now... she felt a familiar twist in her heart. I must speak to her. Blazepaw padded towards her mother.
“ Redriver?” she called tentatively. No answer. Then, the entrance trembled as the beautiful she-cat came out. She flicked her ear irritably.
“ Who’s there?” she grumbled. Her eyes rested on Blazepaw. “ What do you want?’ she barked. Blazepaw scuffed at the ground with her paws.
“ I-I wanted to tell you about my training today,” she chocked.
“ Don’t bother. I don’t want to listen.” Redriver growled.
“ But-but...” Redriver stalked away and padded into her den. Blazepaw stood stiff legged with horror. Some invisible cat jabbed a claw into her chest. Redriver! the wail caught her in throat. She darted into the den and stared at her mother.
“ Redriver! Redriver, please!” she howled. Redriver’s eyes flashed.
“ Do what? Be a mother to you? Be a mother to the cat who killed Blackflame?”
“ I didn’t kill him!”
“ Yes! You made him die! If it wasn’t for you, Blackflame would still be alive!” Blazepaw gasped in horror. The blood roared in her ears and she staggered in hot agony.
“ Blackflame would want you to be a mother to me!” she struggled to control her emotions. “ he would be disappointed in you.” she dropped her voice to a cold whisper. I have done nothing wrong! I did not kill my father! You are heartless! she screamed inside. Redriver stood up at this. She bared her fangs. She let out a blood-curdling yowl. The next thing Blazepaw knew, blood was welling on her muzzle.Redriver lashed her tail and crouched in the corner of the den.
“ Get away from me!” she snarled. Blazepaw was numb. Every bone in her body ached and every muscle screamed. Her heart was tearing, splitting in two at Redriver’s words. With a wail she fled, ignoring the stinging in her paws. Medicine could heal them, but it could never heal her heart.
“ Blazepaw! It’s time for the dawn patrol!” Blazepaw slowly opened her eyes. Owlpaw was poking her with a paw.
“ M’kay I’m coming.” she yawned and staggered to her paws. Her muscles were tired and her paws were sore, but she hurt much more than that. Redriver’s hating eyes were burned into her memory. You knew. You knew if you spoke to her, she would hurt you even more. She twisted around to lap at her ragged fur. Owlpaw sniffed her in concern.
“ Didn’t you go to the medicine den for your paws? You seem-” she fretted. Blazepaw cut her off.
“ I’m fine, okay? And I don’t need someone watching me like a hawk telling me what I seem like.” Blazepaw growled and barged past her friend. She doesn’t need to treat me like a kit! Owlpaw stuck out a paw in indignation.
“ Who put a fish-bone in your throat?” she hissed back.
“ Who put a fish-bone in yours? Stop overreacting to what I say.” Blazepaw shot back. Owlpaw narrowed her eyes, but before she could reply Songfall stuck her head in.
“ Are you going to stand here all day bickering? Its time for the dawn patrol, and we’re not waiting for you until sun-down to do it.” she chided and darted away. Slightly embarrassed, Blazepaw followed her out of the den. Flintscale, Songfall, Gingerfur, Bubbledrift, Smallpaw and Toadpaw were already there, tail-tips twitching impatiently. When Blazepaw and Owlpaw joined them, they rose and swiftly padded out of the camp entrance. The sky was a pale-pink, the sun’s first rays beginning to touch it. The trees still cast feeble shadows, and the river was a dark grey. All was silent. Blazepaw arched her back and relished it. Suddenly, a meow broke her thoughts.
“ I’m so nervous!” Smallpaw exclaimed. Blazepaw tipped her head to one side.
“ Why?” she asked. He kinked his tail high in excitement.
“ After this, I have my assessment along with Toadpaw!” in the dim light, his eyes were bright. Blazepaw purred quietly.
“ That’s great!” Smallpaw was Owlpaw’s brother. He bounded away to speak with Gingerfur, probably about his assessment. Blazepaw halted. They were near the gorge- she could here the crash of the waterfall. Bubbledrift stopped Toadpaw as he tried to continue.
“ Owlpaw, Blazepaw, Toadpaw and Smallpaw; you stay here. You can’t go near the gorge, it’s to dangerous.” she warned. Only mouse-brains would fall in. Blazepaw thought, but kept back with the others.
“ But me and Toadpaw are going to be warriors today! Can’t we go?” Smallpaw whined. At Gingerfur’s glare, he subsided. Blazepaw watched their mentors pad away, claws clicking on stone. Meanwhile, Toadpaw shredded a leaf.
“ I’m a warrior!” he grumbled. Owlpaw purred and licked his cheek.
“ You’ve always been one to me.” she murmured. Toadpaw stared at her in astonishment.
“I-I have?” he stuttered. Owlpaw brushed his flank with her tail.
“ Yes.” she purred. Blazepaw gaped at her in astonishment. Owlpaw drew closer so she could wrap her tabby tail around Toadpaw’s grey one. Blazepaw felt sick. She quietly padded away through the bushes, until she found a small pool to lap at. The leaves rustled from behind her and Smallpaw’s dark pelt appeared.
“ You’ve always been a warrior to me.” he mocked. Blazepaw, who was feeling angry with Owlpaw at the moment, purred. She widened her eyes and tried to make them look love-struck.
“ Oh, Toadpaw. I love the way your whiskers droop and the way your nose twitches,” she cooed. Smallpaw stared at her in astonishment before dropping to the ground and rolling around purring. Blazepaw twitched her whiskers.
“ That’s funny! I never thought Owlpaw would be the type to moon over a tom.” he chortled. Blazepaw nodded.
“ Same! Come on, lets get back before we miss the patrol.” Blazepaw paused to lap at some more water, and pushed back through the bush. Owlpaw and Toadpaw were still mooning over each other, and Blazepaw could see the pelts of the warriors flashing through the undergrowth.
“ Come on.” Bubbledrift said. “ we need to mark the ThunderClan border.” she bounded away. The sun was halfway up now, Blazepaw could hear a birds tentative song ringing from the trees. She bent down to lick some fading dew from the grass and scampered after the warriors. They were trotting quickly ahead, skirting stray clumps of dead weeds. The beginning of a small hill sloped upwards at Blazepaw’s feet, she pushed harder with her hind-paws to climb it. Panting, she reached the top and bumped into a set of hindquarters. Through the pain in her muzzle, she heard Gingerfur’s astonished gasp.
“ Look!” Blazepaw stood beside them and squinted her eyes. Near the ThunderClan border in a clump of reeds, were orange sparks shooting from the ground. The sight of them sent a tremor through her. She knew what it was. Yet she didn’t have a name for it.
“ Fire.” Flintscale and Songfall ran up beside them. Their pelts bristled and their eyes were wide. What is there to be afraid about? Blazepaw was confused.
“ Oh no.” whispered Smallpaw. “ not again!” Flintscale was peering closer at it.
“ Not a very big one. It’ll blaze for another day or two, then burn itself out. All the same, I’m going to to tell Willowstar after this. Come on.” he darted away. The rest of the patrol followed him. Blazepaw stayed rooted to the spot. Fire. the word made her legs tremble. Fire. She lifted her muzzle. Something was tugging at her paws. Fire. her head was racing. Fire. The tug on her paws strengthened. In a daze, she began to walk towards it. Fire! Fire! her paws accelerated. Fire! Fire! Blazepaw gasped. She ran faster than she ever had before, paws skimming the ground. I’m coming! I’m coming! called her heart. She was so confused, yet bafflingly joyous. When she reached the reed bed, she was panting for air. Suddenly, the fire roared. Blazepaw swung around. She gasped at the glowing wall that loomed above her. She dug her claws into the ground. A breeze suddenly bore down upon her, ruffling her fur and closing her eyes. In her mind, a voice spoke, a voice so powerful and wise it made her shake. Welcome, Firecat. Welcome. The wind swirled faster now, and the fire burned brighter. Blazepaw’s hear thumped. Firecat? she wanted to open her eyes, yet she didn’t, for she knew that if she did they would be scorched by the brightness. She flattened her ears. Every hair on her pelt began to tremble. What is happening? her throat was tight in terror. The voice spoke again, each word with more might than the one before. Do not be afraid Firecat. Never be afraid. Then the breeze stilled and the fire withdrew. Blazepaw stood still. The strength of the fire left her shocked, and dazed from what she had seen and heard. What does it mean? What is happening? her breathing became fast.
“ Blazepaw? Blazepaw!” shrieked a voice. Blazepaw slowly turned around. Flintscale was running towards her, Songfall and Bubbledrift in his wake.
“ Blazepaw, what are you doing?” yowled Songfall.
“ Wh-what am I d-d-doing?” Blazepaw stammered.
“ The fire, Blazepaw! The fire! You could have died!” Flintscale screeched in rage. “ what kind of fish-brain are you?” Blazepaw was indignant.
“ I am not a fish-brain! I was perfectly fine.” Blazepaw snapped. Flintscale glowered at her.
“ Have you forgotten that fire killed your father?” how could I? she thought bitterly. Every time she saw Redriver, she was reminded. Like Redriver would let me forget that it was ‘all my fault’ my father died. When Blazepaw didn’t answer, Flintscale sniffed.
“ I thought so. For your fish-brained thinking, you are grounded in camp for the rest of the day.” he snarled. What?! Blazepaw drew in her breath. She stalked away without a word.
But that night, her dreams were full of searing orange-red flames that licked at the night sky. Do not be afraid Firecat. Never be afraid.
... five... six... seven...eight... Blazepaw’s head broke through the surface of the water and she groped for air. The green-leaf sun beat harshly down on her face. She was in the reed bed, practicing her breathing underwater. I’m getting better. I used to only be able to do five heartbeats! satisfaction surged under her pelt. She looked around at the sky-blue surface of the pool. Tiny silver flickers darted around in it, and Blazepaw licked her lips. Let’s see how my hunting skills are. Taking a deep breath, she slowly sank underwater. The calm surface closed in above her ears and Blazepaw slowly opened her eyes. The skinny minnows scurried around the stems; Blazepaw could only see them through the shafts of sunlight that broke through the water and dappled the bed. She lay absolutely still, waiting for the careless daring minnow... at last! A small shape swam innocently in her direction, probably not noticing as her ginger pelt blended in perfectly with the brown water. A tightness knotted up her throat. I need air! But I’m so close... the minnow was even nearer. Still, Blazepaw waited. Then, in one fluid movement, stretched out her paws and surged upwards. As she erupted out of the water, she flung her paws behind her. The tiny fish hit the ground and spasmed violently before Blazepaw killed it with a quick bite to its spine. Thank you, StarClan. She nudged the fresh-kill further up the shore and began to haul herself out.
“ Nice catch,” purred a voice. Owlpaw pushed her way through the reeds and trotted up beside her.
“ Thanks! I was just giving it to the elders,” Blazepaw explained. She flicked her tail. “ You can have it, if you want.” Owlpaw shook her head.
“ No thanks. And why are you so wet? Did you have to jump in after it?” she teased
“ Its a new technique I developed. Do you like it?”
“ It’s great! Are you sure you thought of it?” Owlpaw purred. Blazepaw growled playfully and shoved her with her shoulder. With a shriek, Owlpaw staggered into the reed-bed. Blazepaw purred. Owlpaw glared at her, face-fur drooping in wetness.
“ It’s not funny!” she hissed, but then began to purr. Blazepaw dove into the water beside her. The hot sun reminded her of the fire she had seen, and a fierce longing pierced her heart. I want to see if it’s still there. And maybe I can show Owlpaw what-what happens and how it speaks to me.
“ Come on,” Blazepaw meowed and hauled herself out, picking up the minnow in her jaws. “ I need to show you something.”
“ Sure.” Owlpaw bounded after her friend. When they reached camp, a pale-grey shape bounded over to them.
“ Hey Owlpaw! Want to come hunting with me today?” the tom meowed. Blazepaw stifled a purr. It was the newly named Toadleap. Owlpaw shook her head.
“ Sorry, Toadleap. Blazepaw needs to show me something, I’ll come with you when I come back okay?” she meowed. Toadleap sighed in disappointment.
“ Fine. I’ll wait!” he licked her cheek darted away. Blazepaw dropped her minnow in the pile and nudged Owlpaw playfully with her nose.
“ So sweet! Are you mates?” Blazepaw ducked away from Owlpaw’s claws.
“ You’re horrible!”
“ I know. But seriously, are you?” Blazepaw taunted.
“ No! But Toadleap is a great cat, and I hope we can be mates later.” Owlpaw meowed. Blazepaw gave her a friendly cuff to the ear and darted out of the entrance. She padded along the well-worn dirt track that wound upwards toward the gorge.
“ What is it that you have to show me?” Owlpaw asked as they neared the reeds. Blazepaw stopped. “ Something important. Hey look, I see a water vole!” Blazepaw lied. Owlpaw’s head whipped around.
“ It went under those bushes.” Blazepaw flicked her tail at a thick clump of old holly. In a flash, Owlpaw darted under it. Blazepaw raced away. Is it still there? heart pounding, she reached the place where she had seen it yesterday. There were no crackling fiery sparks to be seen anywhere. Disappointed, Blazepaw slowly turned and padded away. Welcome, Firecat. Blazepaw spun around. Small peaks of flame were licking at the long wavy reeds. Blazepaw paused and inhaled and bittersweet scent.
“ I see you have come back.” a deep, amused rumble came from behind her. Blazepaw whirled around and hissed, fear pulsing through her blood. Have I been found out? Blazepaw bristled. A grey-and-white tom with black patches sitting across from her, his tail curled around his paws. Do I know him? she sniffed. His scent was familiar; Blazepaw knew she had seen him before. Shock jolted through her like lightning.
“ You! I know you! You brought me back... When I died.” Blazepaw gasped. The cat dipped his head.
“ Yes, I did. Do you know my name?” the amusement hadn’t faded from his eyes. Blazepaw frowned. I feel like I should. But I can’t.
“ No.” she said quietly. Her heart thumped. Something was going to happen.
“ My name is Blackflame.” his voice dropped to a whisper as he stared at her. Blazepaw blinked. She stood up shakily and backed away.
“ B-Blackflame? My father?” she chocked. A lump almost as big as a fish-bone was stuck in her throat. My father. The one who I supposedly killed. Blackflame stretched out his muzzle as if to lick her, then snatched it back.
“ You’ve heard many things about me, have you not? Some are true; others are false.”
“ You mean like how Redriver told me I killed you?” Blazepaw growled. Blackflame’s eyes darkened with pain.
“ Surely you don’t believe that?” his voice seemed to tremble.
“ I don’t know! I don’t know what to believe anymore.” Blazepaw shot back. Her mind was whirling so fast, her voice sounded like it was underwater. She took a step back and eyed Blackflame warily. After all these moons, his spirit has finally revealed itself to me. Yet she could not be happy. Too much resentment had been associated with Blackflame’s name.
“ You can believe me.” He murmured. “I’m so proud of you, my daughter.” Then, something broke loose inside of Blazepaw.
“ Proud of me? If you were that proud, why do you reveal yourself now? Why not come and help me as a kit when I was hurting from Redriver’s rejection?” Blazepaw snarled. She crouched down as if to attack Blackflame. His eyes burned with even more intensity.
“ I couldn’t, Blazepaw,” he meowed sorrowfully “ you weren’t ready.”
“ Wasn’t ready?”
“ Your mind couldn’t handle seeing me. If I had come to you, you would have died!” Blackflame hissed. He flames behind hip shot up a tail-length. Blazepaw watched them, her anger slowly quelling.
“ If so, why are you here now?”
“ I am a regular StarClan spirit, but I wander. I come to the fire, with the other cats that are like me,” Blackflame gestured with his tail. Blazepaw gasped, Spirits leapt out of the fire and circled her. Their eyes were bright and animated, with fur that crackled and hissed along with the fire. The spirits paws spurted tiny flames when they hit the ground. Blazepaw growled at them, tail lashing.
“ Do not be afraid.” One of them stepped forwards. It was a she-cat, with brown mottled fur. Her sparkling blue eyes seemed to pierce right into Blazepaw’s soul.
“ W-Who are you?” Blazepaw stammered. The she-cat purred.
“ We are the Firecats.” Firecats. The fire called me a Firecat! “ I see your confusion.” the tabby rested her tail on Blazepaw’s shoulder. Heat pulsed through her body when it touched her prickling fur. “ My name is Oakstream. I was a warrior of RiverClan before I died. Blackflames mother’s, mother was my kit’s kit. I was swallowed by fire, just as all these cats were. Even when we are in StarClan, we are drawn to the fire. We can control it, thus the name Firecat. And you can too.” she meowed. I can too? Blazepaw gazed around her. Another cat stepped forwards, a wiry black male.
“ I am Stagfoot , deputy of WindClan. The fire killed me as well, and when I died I had power over the flames. You are the first living cat to do that, Blazepaw,” he explained. Blazepaw’s heart was pounding.
“ I don’t want to! I don’t want to control the fire that killed my father and destroyed my mother!” Blazepaw wailed. She gazed around at the spirits who started at her calmly. Blackflame stepped forwards and rested his warm gaze on her.
“ But you must. Something is coming, Blazepaw. Something that only fire can destroy.” Huh? Blazepaw widened her eyes. What was coming? “ But first, we must teach you about fire. This flame is waning, but come early tomorrow and you will make it.” Blackflame continued. Blazepaw’s head swam with confusion.
“ Wait... so you-” she stammered.
“ Goodbye, Blazepaw.” The whispers of the dead cats made the reeds tremble. One by one, the Firecats began to fade until only Oakstream and Blackflame were left. Both cats pressed against her flank, filling her with warmth that spread right up to her heart. They both turned to meet her eyes, their own gaze bright and warm. Blazepaw peered deep into the depths and thought she saw burning embers flickering deep inside.
“ RiverClan needs you.” Oakstream said. “ And you need them.”
“ I don’t need Redriver.” Blazepaw snorted. Oakstream’s gaze burned deeper into her soul.
“ Yes you do. But be strong Blazepaw. Something will sweep through RiverClan, and only fire can stop it.” Oakstream hissed. Slowly, she began to fade until she had melted away. Blackflame’s meow jerked her back to the present.
“ I will always be with you,” he promised, and began to fade away.
“ Don’t-don’t go!” Blazepaw pleaded. But Blackflame kept fading, until only his smoldering eyes remained. Then they too winked out and disappeared. Abruptly, the fire shrank and was reduced to only a few burning reeds. She closed her eyes and let the memories of her experience wash over her until she was too tired to stand. “ I will come back.” Blazepaw promised, and headed away.
The sky was a soft pink when Blazepaw slowly exited the apprentice’s den the next morning. She yawned and arched her back, trying to clear the fuzzy sleep off her. Dew began to settle on her whiskers. Blazepaw licked it off, relishing how the cold bathed her tongue. She eased herself through the sedge entrance, trying not to make too much of a show out of her disappearance. A few sleepy water voles lumbered across her path, but Blazepaw wasn’t in the mood to catch them. I’m too nervous for what’s awaiting me.
When she got there, it was the same as the day before, except for a charred circle of grass in the center. Blazepaw sniffed, enjoying the bitter scent of burnt things filling her nostrils. Where’s the fire? Blazepaw padded forwards warily, tail-tip twitching. Grass crackled behind her and she jumped. Oakstream had appeared behind her.
“ Hello, Blazepaw,” the she-cat purred. Blazepaw gulped. “ I’m going to be your mentor in fire.”
“ W-Where’s Blackflame?” Blazepaw said.
“ This fire was not big enough to attract all the spirits it did yesterday. Only I could come.” Oakstream explained. Blazepaw shrugged, but hurt pricked her belly. Of course. No parent cares about me very much. “ Shall we get started?”
“ Oh, uh, yes.” Blazepaw said. Oakstream swung her slim head around and glanced fiercely at a half-dead bush that stood to her left. Almost at once, it burst into flames. Blazepaw fought back a shriek. “Whoa!” She exclaimed in surprised. Oakstream shook her pelt modestly.
“ One of the basic tricks. I’ll teach that to you in time, but first you have to get familiar with fire.” Oakstream padded forwards calmly and stood beside the flames. They arched over her back and licked at her cheeks, but she didn’t appear to notice. Oakstream jerked her head, beckoning Blazepaw to join her. “ It won’t burn you.” Oakstream promised. Hesitantly, Blazepaw took a step forwards. Stretching out her muzzle, she walked closer to the fire though all her instincts told her to run away. When she did step into it, nothing happened. Instead, Blazepaw experienced delicious warmth and power surging through her.
“ It’s not so bad!” Blazepaw purred. Suddenly, the fire shot up into the sky behind her, scorching the leaves off a nearby willow. Blazepaw yelped and fled, spinning around to face Oakstream a few cat-lengths away. The tabby spirit was purring. Behind her, the flames receded.
“ Blazepaw, the fire is linked to your, thus also linked to your emotions. When you are excited, or feeling any extreme emotion, the flames will copy your feelings and do what they just did now. Do it again, but this time try to be less excited. Thin of something boring,”
“ Okay?” Blazepaw took a deep breath and stepped towards the fire again, but this time she pictures the elders telling stories to her. Their monotoned voices droned on in her head and she felt a yawn creeping up her throat.
“ Well done, Blazepaw!” Cheered Oakstream. Blazepaw looked back and saw the fire burning levelly at shoulder-level behind her. Pride surged through her chest. Oakstream stepped away and hissed, then the fire died. Oakstream was paling.
“ Where are you going?” Blazepaw called in alarm.
“ This fire is dying, and it cannot sustain me. Blazepaw... when there is another fire, you will know. Come then, and I will teach you more...” Oakstream faded away. Blazepaw glanced back longingly at the bush before trotting away. Maybe I can make it back to camp in time...
“ Blazepaw! There you are!” Owlpaw cried and charged down to meet her friend. “ We’ve been so worried!”
“ I was fine,” Blazepaw insisted, giving her friend a reassuring lick on the cheek. “ Are you out training?”
“ Yes, with Flintscale, Songfall, Berrypaw and Lionclaw. They-”
“ Blazepaw!” This yowl was furious. Flintscale ran down to the clearing to face Blazepaw. His fur was fluffed out in rage and his ears were flat agains this head. Blazepaw crouched down, humiliated. “ Blazepaw, where in StarClan’s name were you? Do you know how long we spent looking for you when we could have been training?” Flintscale was simmering with fury. Blazepaw shrank beneath his hot glare.
“ I’m really sorry, honest! I was just out for a-a walk,” Blazepaw didn’t think she was a very convincing liar. Flintscale let out a contemptuous snort.
“ Great StarClan! I have an apprentice who sacrifices training time to look at flowers!”
“ I never said anything about flowers!” Blazepaw shot back, anger making her bold. Flintscale curled his lip, then turned away.
“ Come on; you’ve wasted enough time already,” he strode away, kicking up dirt in his wake. Feeling a bit guilty, Blazepaw followed with her head down. She glanced timidly at Berrypaw, her adopted brother, who just shrugged his wide cream shoulders.
“ He’s right, you know,” Blazepaw felt her pelt burn in shame. She stalked past Berrypaw to catch up with her mentor. Flintscale looked behind him and saw her coming but didn’t slow down. At last, Blazepaw caught up.
“ Flintscale, I really am-”
“ Save it,” Flintscale cut her off curtly and kept on walking. Hurt, Blazepaw stopped and dropped her gaze. Songfall rested a comforting tail on her shoulder. Her yellow star was sympathetic. Blazepaw didn’t want her sympathy. She drifted to the side of the group and walked on the hard stones at the edge of the path. Finally, they reached the river. The spray from it crashing on the rocks carried sharp sticks up to her face and stung her cheeks. Blazepaw was too upset to shake them away. Flintscale, Songfall and Lionclaw dove into the water, hardly making a splash. They fanned out to either side of Flintscale to watch their apprentices. Flintscale pointed his sopping tail at a tangle of reeds and old tree rots on the side. Murky water lapped at it and Blazepaw wrinkled her snout in disgust. Did he choose this location just to make me get dirty? Blazepaw pondered. “ Today we are going to be practicing fishing in the reeds. Can anyone show me a technique they have developed, if any?” At once, Blazepaw raised her tail. She’d practiced a lot of fishing in the reed bed with Owlpaw so she knew exactly what to do. A bit timidly, Owlpaw raised hers. Berrypaw flicked his tail, but didn’t raise. Flintscale glanced at both cats, making a point of skipping over Blazepaw before nodding to Owlpaw.
“ Flintscale? Blazepaw and I have this method-”
“ Get on with it!” Flintscale interrupted. Lowering her head, Owlpaw dove into the water and paddled towards the cloud of debris. She hauled herself out on the pebbly shore before it and poised for a jump. Of course. She’s going to hop into it and make the fish come out, but it only works with two cats. Owlpaw ran her tongue over her jaws, then pushed off strongly from the shore and splashed onto the reeds across from her. Small flickers exploded from it, Owlpaw whirled around and frantically tried to grab some. She only succeeded in catching one, but the others got lucky and managed to escape. Looking disgruntled, Owlpaw came out holding the limp minnow between her jaws. Flintscale shrugged.
“ Horrible. You jumped to far and didn’t check for an exit. And, your catching skills were awful. Still, I don’t think anyone could have done better,” Flintscale criticized. Owlpaw flinched at his words and crept back to Blazepaw’s side. Berrypaw pressed against her protectively and glared at Flintscale. Indignation surged through Blazepaw’s pelt. Just because he’s mad at me doesn’t mean he has to be cruel to Owlpaw! Furious, Blazepaw stepped forwards and let out a challenging yowl to her mentor.
“ And I don’t suppose you could have done any better? That techniques Owlpaw’s and mine. Stop being such a grouch!” she yowled. Flintscale’s eyes widened in shock.
“ Blazepaw, what did you just say?”
“ Didn’t you hear me? Or are you deaf?” Blazepaw poised to jump into the water. Suddenly, she hated it. Images of water quenching fire filled her head, but Blazepaw shrugged them away. She leapt in and floundered over to where Flintscale was watching her.
“ Blazepaw, I understand thing aren’t easy for you...” he means Redriver. Will everyone stop judging me for what my mother has done?
“ This is not about Redriver! This is about you being dumb!” Blazepaw shot back. Terrible rage was thickening in her head. She felt heat rush up through her legs. Suddenly the heat seemed to burst inside of her. She yelped and splashed around frantically while her legs shook and wobbled. The bushes behind Flintscale exploded into flame. His tai-tip neared it and caught on fire. Flintscale howled and plunged underwater. Smoke steamed up from the surface, but Flintscale didn’t reappear. The flames hissed in delight. What have I done? Blazepaw shrieked inside. Oakstream’s words rang in her head. the fire is linked to you... I must calm down! Think calmly. Think of water. Calm, cool water... but the only water she could envision was surrounded by boiling-hot fire. It reached out to her, crackling in menace. It can’t hurt me. But somehow, she didn’t believe that. This fire was wild. Oakstream’s had been tame. What if I’m not immune to fire? The fire came closer and closer, but Blazepaw was too scared to move...
“ Blazepaw!” Something wet jumped over her and forced her underwater, then hauled her up a few moments later. Blazepaw’s nose and throat stung. She let out a hacking cough, water spewing out of her mouth. Flintscale’s face loomed above hers, concerned.
“ Flintscale I’m-”
“ Hush. It’s okay. Let’s get you back to camp,” he nosed her up and let her lean on his shoulder. Blazepaw drew away.
“ I’m fine, Flintscale. Really,” she added when she saw his doubtful look. The fire was gone. She could feel it. “ And I’m ashamed of how I acted. Can you ever forgive me?” Shame burned through her pelt. Flintscale flicked his tail casually.
“ I forgive you, Blazepaw. We all have our rough days,” Flintscale meowed. Blazepaw was relieved. He’s not mad at me. But then she looked at the charred edge of his tail and shuddered. If I had been angrier, would the fire have been stronger? Would it have killed him? A frightening though struck her. What if... what if this power to much for me to handle?
That night, Blazepaw had dreams of a fire that burned in the marshes just outside camp. The wet ground bubbled and hissed where it met the burning reeds, but the fire didn’t burn out. Blazepaw tossed and turned in her nest, trying to break free of the dream. That means a new fire is here. I can’t go back, look what I did to Flintscale yesterday!
“ Blazepaw, what on earth have you done to your nest?” Berrypaw’s wide face was above hers. Blazepaw yawned and gasped in horror. The reeds and moss she woven so carefully together were strewn across the den in clumps.
“ Bad dreams,” hastily, she shoved them back in place and trotted out of the apprentice’s den. Crispy, cold air ran through her fur. Blazepaw walked over to the fresh-kill pile and selected an old salmon, settling down under a bush to eat. I want to be ready and make up for what I said to Flintscale yesterday. She gulped down the juicy morsel, the buried the remains. I wonder what we’re going to do today?
“ You’re up early, I see!” Flintscale let out a pleased purr. Blazepaw jumped to her paws to greet him.
“ I’m sorry about yesterday, I truly am!” Blazepaw said earnestly. Flintscale shrugged.
“ Let’s start over today. It’s battle training day,” he announced.
“ Yes!” Blazepaw leapt into the air, twisted gracefully, then landed on her feet. Flintscale surveyed her, amused. Owlpaw slid from her den, yawning.
“ What’s ‘yes’?” she asked, arching her back with another great yawn.
“ Battle training,” Blazepaw replied. Owlpaw’s eyes brightened and she playfully jumped at Blazepaw. Blazepaw purred and sidestepped, causing Owlpaw to land ungraciously on her side. She shook the mud from her thick pelt and growled mockingly.
“ You’ll pay for that!” she ran and cuffed Blazepaw’s ear. Blazepaw spun around and rammed her head against Owlpaw’s flank. Owlpaw yelped and turned, ready to attack again. Then, Blazepaw heard chatter and recognized the voiced of the young warriors, Toadleap, Smalltail and Birdmist. Abruptly, Owlpaw changed demeanor and licked her chest fur, smoothing it down. Of course! Toadleap. Blazepaw chocked back a purr. The pale tom spotted Owlpaw and his tail shot up.
“ Hi! Songfall says we’re training with you today,” he said. Owlpaw brushed pelts with him.
“ That’s great!” They twined tails and padded towards the entrance, heads pressed close together. Birdmist and Smalltail halted beside Blazepaw.
“ My brother looks happy,” Birdmist observed in good-humor. Smalltail nudged her.
“ Definitely. And you aren’t?” he teased. Blazepaw felt a pang of-what was it? Anger? Pity? Jealousy? Blazepaw shook out her pelt and strode away. The rest of the cats were waiting at the entrance. Owlpaw was with Toadleap, while Birdmist and Smalltail were talking to Berrypaw. Feeling a bit left out, Blazepaw stepped in beside her mentor.
“ Are we all here?” Songfall asked. Flintscale shook his head.
“ No Lionclaw,” he scanned the cats for Berrypaw’s mentor.
“ Should I go get him?” Blazepaw offered, then saw the amber tom trotting towards them, looking wet as if he had just taken a dip in the reed bed. Lionclaw greeted his apprentice, then followed Flintscale and the other out of camp. They traveled down to the riverbank, then followed the crest of a small hill until they stopped in a clearing of spindly willows. Songfall, Flintscale and Lionclaw passed a few words. The, Songfall stood in front of the cats and hissed to get their attention.
“ We’ve all been training for a different amount of time. Smalltail, Birdmist and Toadleap, you’re done. Owlpaw has been training for two moons, and Blazepaw is on her first. Yet it is never to early to start battle moves. Today, your mentor and a warrior will asses you in how you are as for as battle skills go. Got it?”
“ Yes!” They chorused.
“ Good. Warriors, get with an apprentice and mentors find yours. Quickly!” Songfall instructed. Chatter broke out as cats picked partners. Toadleap immediately chose Owlpaw, and they followed Songfall who led them away from the group to instruct them. Blazepaw shuffled her paws, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
“ Hey, Blazepaw!” Blazepaw heard her name being called and slowly turned around. Smalltail charged towards her. “ Can we be partners?” Joy rose in Blazepaw’s heart.
“ Of course!” She purred. Flintscale padded over and joined them
“ Okay, so. Let’s start small. Blazepaw, I want to you take on Smalltail. No pun intended. Smalltail, don’t go easy on her,” Flintscale warned. Smalltail’s eyes brightened.
“ Don’t worry, I won’t,” he joked. Blazepaw gulped. I’ve only trained for half a moon. How am I going to beat a fully grown warrior?
“ Go!” Flintscale yowled, narrowing his eyes as he watched. Blazepaw tensed, watching Smalltail circle her. He think I’ll be easy to beat. Blazepaw realized, watching him flick his ears casually. That’ll put him off guard. Let him attack first.
“ Hurry up!” Blazepaw taunted. “ Are you a warrior or a worrier?” Smalltail’s eyes flashed. Triumphant, Blazepaw continued. “ Are you scared. Surely not!” Smalltail let out a yowl and flung himself at her legs. But Blazepaw saw his shoulders curved upwards, and realized what he was about to do. She hissed and leapt for his head, feeling satisfied as he missed her and aimed for where her head should have been.
“ Well done Blazepaw!” Flintscale cheered. Blazepaw purred.
“ Go hard, Smalltail-” she shrieked as he cuffed her ear. Humiliated, Blazepaw ran for his side. He twisted his fore to grab her, but she flung herself to the ground and crawled under his belly. Heaving up with her shoulders, she managed to fling him onto his side. But Smalltail recovered fast. In a second he was running at her again. Blazepaw, as quick as a minnow, dove under him again and nipped at his hind legs. Smalltail stomped in annoyance, almost squashing her tail. She darted around and snapped at his chin. I’m smaller and quicker. That gives me an advantage! Smalltail swung around and his teeth snagged at her scruff. Blazepaw yowled as he tore out fur. “ You won’t win!” he snarled. But Blazepaw wasn’t so sure.
“ Get him, Blazepaw!” That was Owlpaw’s cheer. The rest of the apprentices had finished their fights and were watching her. Smalltail bore down on her and sent her reeling to the left. Blazepaw recovered her balance, just quick enough to dodge another blow. He’s stronger than me. I have to use trickery to win this! Blazepaw let out a fake screech and fled. Smalltail chased after her. While running, Blazepaw dug her hind legs deep into the ground and kicked. She flung dirt and worms on Smalltail’s face. He yowled, shaking his head. Blazepaw scrabbled onto his back, then jabbed at his tendons. Smalltail crumpled to the ground, and Blazepaw stood over him triumphantly. There was silence. Every cat looked at her in utter astonishment. Feeling self-conscious Blazepaw backed away. Smalltail staggered to his feet, eyes wide in surprise.
“ Blazepaw... you beat me!” he choked. “ H-how?”
“ I just did?” Blazepaw shrugged. She delighted at the awed expressions of the other cats. I’m better than them! She purred.
“ I think that’s the best I’ve seen for any apprentice, ever! Blazepaw, we’ll move on to more advanced moves immediately!” Flintscale cried. He beckoned her closer with this tail. “ So I noticed something when you were attacking Smalltail-”
“ Vole!” came a shriek. Blazepaw spun around. She saw Smalltail’s ears perk up as he let out a yowl and charged towards a slender brown shape. That’s not how you catch prey! Blazepaw snorted. But I guess Smalltail hasn’t seen one in ages. She shot after Smalltail, managing to cut off the voles escape path to the right. “ Good job! Get in front of it and send it back!” Smalltail ordered. Flicking her tail to show she understood, Blazepaw streak ahead paws pounding on the earth. The vole kept trying to double back but every time it did, Smalltail was there. Something wet tickled Blazepaw’s cheek. What...She wrenched her gaze away from the chase and gasped in horror. The dark shadow of the gorge was looming up ahead. Fast as a bird, Blazepaw slammed her paws down, wincing as the sharp impact on stone sliced her pads. She had stopped a few fox-lengths away from the gorge. Suddenly, she remembered.
“ Smalltail!” Blazepaw yowled in horror. Had he gone over the edge? Flintscale never let her get this close to the gorge before. “Smalltail!” She narrowed her eyes and scanned the mist. She spotted him. His dark shape was still chasing the vole. Smalltail had avoided the gorge and was running up the slope that led to moor. Oh no! Blazepaw forced her tired legs to move again, chasing after him. He mustn't cross the border! “Smalltail, come back! WindClan!” she screeched, to no avail. The black tom looked back, confused.
“ StarClan, Smalltail! What are you doing?” Blazepaw smelt Toadleap as he halted beside her. Smalltail’s lean shape quickly hurried back and faced his friend. “ Did you-”
“ Yes, I did,” Smalltail hung his head gloomily. “ I crossed the border.” Blazepaw faced him in horror.
“ They’ll... oh no!” she gasped.
“ They might not find out-” Toadleap began. A patrol of wiry WindClan cats emerged from the shadows.
“ It’s a little late for that,” they hissed. Blazepaw snarled a warning as the WindClan cats approached her Clanmates. There were four adults and three apprentices. There were only three RiverClan cats, counting Blazepaw. We can hold them. She caught the stormy stare of a sandy-colored apprentice and scowled back. “ What were you doing on our territory?” One cat-a golden tom- demanded. We were chasing a vole. But there is no way they’d believe that.
“ We crossed it by mistake,” Blazepaw stepped forwards to muffle Smalltail’s meow. “ We are very sorry.” she hoped that by admitting in the wrong, the WindClan cats would back away. To her satisfaction, they were nodding reluctantly. Suddenly, something brushed her aside and Smalltail leapt forwards.
“ Mistake? I was chasing a vole and these cats couldn’t even mark their own boundary!” he scoffed. Idiot! Furious, the WindClan cats turned around and growled at Smalltail. Realizing his mistake, the black warrior shrunk back.
“ What is going on here?” Flintscale, Songfall and Owlpaw appeared.
“ Smalltail crossed the boundary and started a fight,” Blazepaw explained. Looking aghast, Flintscale darted in front of Smalltail and pushed him back.
“ Stop this nonsense! Let’s all get back to our own territories,” he said. The WindClan cats didn’t budge. The golden tom-cat glowered at Flintscale.
“ Of course. But we’ll send you back with...” she crouched down and jumped. “ A few scars!” Flintscale yowled as the she-cat bowled him over. Shrieking, both sides of cats rushed into battle. Blazepaw stood, frozen in horror. This was her first battle. All the sounds and howls flooded into her ears, making her head spin.
“ Hey Fallenpaw,” the golden tom’s voice rang out again. Blazepaw opened her eyes in alarm. The she-cat and her apprentice, Fallenpaw, had cornered Blazepaw against a wall of rock. Mouse-brain! Fallenpaw’s lip curled into a sneer.
“ It’s the kits first battle Goldenwhisker, ” she jeered. Kit! Hot anger pulsed through Blazepaw. She growled.
“ Ooh Fallenpaw I think you made the kitten mad!” Goldenwhisker gasped in fake pity. He widened his eyes mockingly. “ Aww, itty bitty kitten, you want your mama?” Redriver? Me want Redriver? She glowered at Goldenwhisker. How dare he! With a yowl, Blazepaw pushed off from the rock and threw herself and Goldenwhisker’s face. She missed, but managed to swipe his muzzle before thumping to the rocks below. Blazepaw slid out her claws and looked at their red-tainted ends in awe.
This was her first battle.
She had just drawn blood.
And she liked it.
Fallenpaw reared up above Blazepaw, but she wasn’t daunted. Like a fire. A fire that blazes forever in the forest. She yowled back in defiance and the shrubs next to Goldenwhisker burst aflame. The warrior howled, darting back up the moor with his tail on fire. Fallenpaw gasped in rage and turned on Blazepaw. A maniacal delight rose up within her. She yowled again and jumped towards Fallenpaw’s chest, swerving to the side and landing in a neat roll. Her shoulders absorbed the impact for the stone was harsh. Fallenpaw was nimble though; she got up in less than a heartbeat and ran at Blazepaw again. This time, she was lucky. The apprentice’s claws met Blazepaw’s cheek and tore. Blazepaw howled as fiery pain shot up through her face. Blood whipping across her flank in the wind as she ran, Blazepaw sank her teeth viciously into Fallenpaw’s foot. Fallenpaw did more than yelp. She clouted Blazepaw on the head and sent her reeling. The excitement of battle was coursing through Blazepaw’s veins. She lashed out and hit Fallenpaw. The WindClan apprentice did the same. Blazepaw bit her ear. Fallenpaw sank her teeth into Blazepaw’s tail. Blazepaw shot under her belly and heaved upwards. Fallenpaw fastened on to Blazepaw’s shoulders and held until Blazepaw shook her off. Soon Blazepaw realized that although Fallenpaw was older, skilled and agile, she didn’t have as much power as Blazepaw did. That was Fallenpaw’s disadvantage. With a grunt, Blazepaw rammed her head into Fallenpaw’s side and send her tumbling down the slope. The apprentice shrieked as the sharp stones lodged into her pelt. Blazepaw charged down after her and placed both paws on the humiliated apprentice’s shoulders. She bared her teeth, preparing to give her a savage bite, before something pulled her off and threw her to the ground. Goldenwhisker loomed above her again, his face twisted with rage.
“ Let’s teach you a lesson,” he snarled. Blazepaw blocked his swipes, but this was a fully trained warrior. He was way stronger, his blows were hard. Every time Blazepaw blocked one, it was like hitting stone. Something sharp bit into her paw. Fallenpaw had stood and begun to attack again. This is hopeless. I’ll get killed! Panic was beginning to take over. Blazepaw yowled and kicked out at Fallenpaw. A shriek told her she had made contact. But that was nothing. Fallenpaw got up again and leapt on Blazepaw’s shoulders. Blazepaw howled in rage and fear as she was smothered under Fallenpaw’s stinky pelt. The WindClan rank choked her nostrils and Blazepaw gagged. She heaved upwards, but it was to no avail. Fallenpaw wouldn’t budge. Suddenly, she disappeared. Coughing and gagging, Blazepaw recognized Willowstar’s faded pelt. The old she-cat was fighting like a thousand young cats. Eyes blazing, she drove Fallenpaw and Goldenwhisker away. Panting, Blazepaw crouched down and let the spray from the waterfall cool her fur. Cats still fought, the water’s massive growling drowning out their own cries.
“ Hi,” Owlpaw crouched beside her, flanks heaving.
“ Hello,” Blazepaw glanced at her friend. Owlpaw’s flanks were covered in scratches. There was horror and fear in her eyes. Owlpaw surveyed Blazepaw in wonder.
“ There’s hardly a scratch on you!” she gasped.
“ It’s fun,” Blazepaw shrugged.
“ Fun? You call this fun? How can you-” she was cut off as a silver apprentice pushed her over.
“ Nice, Moonpaw!” another apprentice, this one a white tom, came to join them.
“ Thanks Snowpaw. I think this lot will be easy prey,” Moonpaw curled her lip and Owlpaw squealed. Fury raging inside Blazepaw, she stood up and lashed out at both cats. Moonpaw ducked, but Blazepaw managed to hit Snowpaw. The white tom hissed. He flashed out a paw and hit Blazepaw on the shoulder. Gasping in rage, she used the momentum of her pain to propel herself at Snowpaw. He yelped and his his distraction Blazepaw drove him backwards. Moonpaw had not left the fight, though. She grabbed hold of Blazepaw’s tail and tugged hard. Blazepaw howled and spun around, raining furious blows down on Moonpaw’s head until she backed away. Snowpaw is probably behind me. Blazepaw surprised both cats by dropping down and slithering under their bellies until both cast were facing one another in confusion. A plan suddenly coming to mind, Blazepaw scuttled down the slope, kicking pebbles, stones and debris in her path. She turned around and spat at the two apprentices.
“ Come and get me, rabbit-breaths!” she called upon some of the worst insults she knew.
“ Fox-dung faces! Snakehearts! Dog- uh, dog-spit-lickers!” she jeered. Moonpaw and Snowpaw growled in rage, scurrying down the path to get her. They were so intent on their prey that they didn’t notice the rocks in front of their muzzles. Yowling and squawking, they fell and rolled down at Blazepaw’s feet. She bared her teeth in a savage grin. “ Say goodbye-”
“ Blazepaw! Help!” Abandoning her charges, Blazepaw spotted Willowstar being driven back by three warriors. Stop it! Every time blood welled on Willowstar’s fur, Blazepaw winced. She closed her eyes and concentrated hard. Fire... come on! But nothing happened. Only a few raindrops sizzled, but that was it. It’s too wet here! “ Blazepaw!” hearing Willowstar’s desperate cry, Blazepaw charged for her leader. She jabbed one warrior between the tendons and he cried out as his hind-legs collapsed. Triumphant, Blazepaw yanked on the other’s tail and sent him spinning around to face her. Blazepaw gave him a vicious swipe that sent both of them reeling across the stones.
“ Get away from her!” Blazepaw yowled, racing towards Willowstar and leaping onto the last tom’s back. He growled and shook himself savagely.