DCFF3.jpg

Story for Vee <3

"Aren't I a Clan cat?"

"No... I found you in the wild."

"What are you implying?"

"You're father is looking for you. You're the reason why rogues are attacking."

Prologue

A kit was lost in the blizzard.

"Snowflake, where are you!" He called out, his cries fading as he stumbled through the woods, "Snowflake, I can't see you!" He wailed.

White snow billowed around him, and he couldn't see anything. There was nothing that he could see but a blinding white wall, and a few trees dotting the area. The little kit stumbled forward, and there was a distant wail, "Shadow, where are you?"

"Snowflake!"

Shadow crashed into another tree, and he shrieked as the wind caused him to tumbled backwards a bit. He landed with a thump in the soft snow, and his soft cries squeaked out from his open mouth. His barely open eyes fluttered shut and he curled up in the snow, his breathing soft and slowly fading.

Everything slowly faded to black...

~

When the kit woke up, someone was carrying him, "Who's there?" He squeaked, but his voice came out as a shrill cry.

"Sh..." the cat told him, "You'll be safe and warm soon."

Another pitiful cry erupted from Shadow's small, frail body, and the cat set him down. He curled his larger body around the kit's, and he whispered, "Here, I'll keep you warm for now."

Shadow's wails grew fainter and fainter as he drifted into a deeper, but more comforting sleep. The cat purred softly and lifted him back up and started to pad away.

"What do you have here, Thornpelt?"

"I found a rogue kit stranded out in this weather." "Thornpelt" replied.

The other cat, who was shielded by the flying snow snorted, "Another kit? What are we going to do, feed this one until it dies like the other one?"

Thornpelt hissed, "They're kits for the sake of StarClan, at least let my mate, Snowblossom, take him. He's a fragile little one."

"He'll probably die in the next few days, and then where would we be."

Thornpelt rolled his eyes, "It won't take Snowblossom much energy to feed him, don't worry, Sunfire." The other warrior muttered something incoherent and waved Thornpelt through.

As the warrior carried the kitten into the camp, he heard a feeble little cry. "He's dead, he's dead!" A red she-cat was crouched over a kit.

"Redpelt, is that Stormkit?"

The queen looked up with a tearful gaze, "Yes, he's dead... The cold has taken its toll on him! We don't have enough food to support these kits." Her eyes caught the kitten hanging from Thornpelt's jaws. "You have a kit there! Hurry and bring him to the nursery."

"You're in no condition to feed him." Thornpelt scolded his sister, "Come on, Snowblossom will feed her."

The two entered the Nursery, which was a little bit warmer than the outside. "Snowblossom?" He called out, searching for his mate.

"Thornpelt, is that you?"

"Yes, it's me, Snowblossom." Thornpelt nodded, "I found another rogue kit in the blizzard, I was thinking if you could feed him."

The white queen nodded, "Of course, he'll have brothers and sisters waiting for him when he wakes up." She placed him close to her belly.

Redpelt sighed, "I'll inform Oakstar about this and Stormkit."

Snowblossom looked up sharply, "What happened to Stormkit?"

"He died from the frost and from hunger." Redpelt mewed grimly, though her eyes were brimming with tears and she was shaking.

"I'll tell him," Thornpelt whispered, nosing his sister into her nest, "You get some rest."

Redpelt nodded and curled up, sobs erupting from her body as she fell asleep from exhaustion. Thornpelt licked Snowblossom's cheek and padded towards the leader's den, pausing at the entrance to make sure Oakstar knew he was coming in.

"Yes, Thornpelt?" Oakstar looked up tiredly from where he was seatd.

"I found a rogue kit earlier while hunting in the blizzard and Snowblossom has agreed to treat him like our own kit. Also," he continued as Oakstar nodded approvingly, "Stormkit from Redpelt's litter died from the cold and the hunger."

"Is that her last kit?" Oakstar's sorrowful gaze caught Thornpelt's.

"No, she has one more."

The leader nodded slowly, "Alright, thank you for informing me about this. You are dismissed." Thornpelt dipped his head to Oakstar and padded outside, but he heard Oakstar say.

"Is this the end of BrookClan?"

Chapter One

...when a danger cries out to the kit...

"Shadowkit, it's your apprentice ceremony!" Snowblossom called out to me. "Brownkit and Flowerkit are ready to go, but I haven't groomed your fur yet!"

"I can groom myself!"

My mother sighed, and she said urgently, "Then at least groom yourself instead of sitting out in the cold with the snow blowing all over your fur! You don't want to be presented as an apprentice with a dirty pelt! It would disgrace your father and your siblings."

Groaning, I twisted around to lick at my fur, dragging my tom across the ruffled dark gray fur. Snowblossom's tongue worked it's way up my flank, and I struggled to wriggle away from my mother's grasp. "Stay still, Shadowkit."

"I told you I can groom myself!"

Snowblossom only purred affectionately, "Come on, your ceremony's going to start anytime soon! I want you to be tidy and clean when you walk up there."

"The snow's going to get on my fur when I walk outside anyways." I complained, "Why do you need to groom it now?"

Snowblossom rolled her eyes and trapped me under her paws as she started to lick the top of my head. "Ew, stop!" I yowled, but my mother only laughed affectionally, "Stop, I'll groom myself!" I growled grudgingly. Snowblosom continued to groom my fur, and I gave up.

Finally she released me and I tumbled away. "Oh Shadowkit, you look so handsome!"

She nudged me proudly towards the door. "Go on, Oakstar's about to start your apprentice ceremony! Brownkit and Flowerkit are already outside!"

My brother and sister were sitting outside of the Nursery with their tail curled over their paws. I hurried to sit down next to them as Oakstar bounded up the HighRock.

"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather around the HighRock for a Clan meeting!" His strong and steady voice echoed around the hollow.

The blizzard had subsided since my birth, but there were still signs of the storm all around camp. There were heaps of snow littered around the camp and the warriors' den had piles of snow on top of it. I kicked away some of the snow that was sitting next to me and tried to remember my birth.

It was all white, and I could remember a voice calling for me a soothing voices and a warm bed afterwards. I couldn't remember anything else, but Thornpelt had told me that I had tumbled outside of the Nursery for a bit, which explained why I remembered parts of the blizzard. No one else in the Clan would talk about my birth.

"Today, we're going to have three new apprentices."

Brownkit nudged me excitedly and I purred as Flowerkit nearly tripped over herself in anticipation. "Brownkit, Flowerkit, and Shadowkit, stepped forward."

"Brownkit, from this moment on, until you receive your warrior name, you shall be known as Brownpaw. Leafshade, you are a strong and dedicated warrior, and I know you'll teach Brownpaw well." My brother leaned over to touch noses with his mentor.

"Flowerkit, from this moment on, until you receive your warrior name, you shall be known as Flowerpaw. Silverbreeze, you are an experienced warrior, and I know you'll teach Flowerpaw everything you know." My sister delicately bumped noses with her mentor.

Oakstar's gaze landed on me. "Shadowkit, from this moment on, until you receive your warrior name, you shall be known as Shadowpaw. Brambleflare, you are my faithful and loyal deputy, and I know you'll make Shadowpaw a great warrior." I scampered over and touched noses with the deputy.

"Brownpaw! Flowerpaw! Shadowpaw!"

My sister leaned over and whispered, "This is so exciting!"

I silently agreed.

Brambleflare came over and nudged me, "Come on you three, we're going to explore the territory for today." I exchanged delighted glances with my brother.

I spotted my father and my mother, Thornpelt and Snowblossom talking on the side. They kept glancing at me as they talked, and I gulped, not sure what they were talking about.

"Hey, Shadowpaw, hurry up!" I heard Brownpaw call out, "If you don't hurry, we're leaving you behind!"

Casting one last look at my parents, I turned and bounded after my mentor and my littermates, "Coming!" I yowled, racing after them.

Soon I caught up to them and we padded in silence, with Brambleflare ahead to lead us. The moment we broke out into the trees, I let out a gasp of wonder.

Flowerpaw had raced towards the nearest tree, and was pushing herself against it, stretching. "There's so many new things out here!" She yelped, as a nut bounced off her head.

Brownpaw stood rooted in his spot, and he stared around with wide yellow eyes. Brambleflare watched us in amusement, and after awhile, she purred, "Come on your three, let's get going. At this rate, you'll never see the rest of the territory."

I fell in step behind my brother and sister, with Brownpaw in the need and Flowerpaw squished in between us. This was our familiar troop line.

"BrookClan isn't the only Clan in the forest," Brambleflare explained, "There are two other Clans, CloudClan and RainClan. RainClan lives near the river and a lake, and they normally hunt fish more than land prey. CloudClan is a bit more like us, but they have moors with few trees and lots of rabbits."

Flowerpaw's amber eyes snapped over to Brambleflare, "So we could be attacked by these two Clans at any time?" She squeaked.

My mentor frowned, "No, it doesn't work like that," she mewed patiently, "We are rarely at war with the other two Clans because we're mostly focused on a band of rogues on the outside of our border, near RainClan. CloudClan is on the other side, but sometimes even they are attacked by the rogues. The three Clans work together to defeat these rogues, so if we are attacked, it would be from the rogues." She seemed to be finding a good place to settle her eyes, but she would not look at me.

I frowned, but decided to let it go. Maybe she just didn't want to scare me.

Not that I was scared.

"So we could be attacked by the rogues at any time." I corrected my sister. Brambleflare seemed uncomfortable with that question, and merely nodded.

Brownpaw narrowed his eyes, "Why do they attack the Clans anyways?"

Brambleflare tensed, and she purred softly, "That's a question for another day, apprentices, come on, let's go see the CloudClan border."

I trotted after her, Flowerpaw on my heels. Brownpaw stood there for a bit, obviously debating her response and shrugged before running after us.

Maybe Brambleflare was hiding something about the rogues, something that she didn't want to tell the three of us about.

But what?

Chapter Two

...when danger calls out...

CloudClan and RainClan weren't so interesting after all. The borderlines were marked with fresh scent of...other cats, and there was nobody to fight or talk to. Even though Brambleflare said that we were allies with the other two Clans, I didn't believe that we wouldn't get into fights with them from time to time. And I wanted a good fight.

We ended up dragging ourselves back to camp, exhausted from our trek around the territory. Brambleflare purred about sores and allowed us to go to our den to sleep.

"The apprentice den!" Flowerpaw let out a squeal, "Let's go!"

My brother and sister raced for the den, and Brambleflare stopped me with a paw, "Shadowpaw, don't you go worrying about rogues, okay?"

Before I could ask what she meant, my mentor disappeared into the leader's den to talk to Oakstar. I stared after her, and I heard a yowl from the apprentice den, calling me, "Hurry up, Shadowpaw! Flowerpaw's going to take the good spot all for herself if you don't hurry!"

As I skidded into the den, Blossompaw raised her head, "What's all the- Oh, it's you three," she twitched her whiskers in amusement.

Blossompaw was our cousin, and Thornpelt's niece. She was usually nice, and I looked forward to hanging out with her again.

"Did you hear?" Blossompaw strethced, "Hawkwing is having kits!"

"Really?"

Rainpaw, from the other side of the den looked up from her nest, "Yeah, she announced it while you three were out touring the territory."

"How was it anyways?" Rainpaw's brother, Lionpaw snorted, "Did you all trip and fall?"

I stared at Rainpaw for a moment longer, her dull, yet attractive gray pelt mesmerizing me. "Hey, Shadowpaw!" Flowerpaw purred, "Don't you want a nest too?"

I jolted out of my daydream and hurried over to the only empty nest, which happened to be by Rainpaw, "Of course I do!" I laughed, "I could sleep for a moon!"

Brownpaw snorted.

Flowerpaw yawned and curled up, flicking her tail in Brownpaw's face in the process. They were both near my too, and we curled up together, just like we did in the Nursery.

But then I kind of wished I didn't fall asleep.

Because my dreams were full of nightmares.

"Anyone there?" I called out, trying to peer through the whiteness of the snow. It was blinding, swirling everywhere, clouding my vision in the process. I couldn't see a thing.

"Please, someone answer me!" I yowled, trying to take a step forward, only to find my paw frozen to the ground. The ice was seeping up my legs, and I shrieked, trying to yank my paw off the ground.

It was no use. The ice continued to spread, and I shivered, the warmth I had earlier sucked out of me. "Flowerpaw? Brownpaw! Rainpaw! Someone come save me!" I wailed, feeling completely frozen.

The ice was at my neck, and I stretched it, trying to buy me a bit more time so somebody could save me. The snow was even more blinding now, and I couldn't see anything but white. "Thornpelt! Snow-" The ice closed around my mouth, and the moment I said the word "Snow", everything stopped.

The ice around my mouth melted again, but the rest of it stayed. A white figure loomed in front of me, and I let out a startled gasp, "Who are you?" My voice shook with sudden fear.

"Snow..." A voice rasped, "Snow..."

It seemed to want to finish the word that I was trying to say, "Snow...blossom?" I tried, hoping this would melt the rest of the ice clinging to my fur.

The figure shook its head and rasped, "Snow..."

She seemed to familiar, but so different from Snowblossom. "Snowblossom is my mother!" I yowled, trying to make it understand.

"No, Snow..." there was more to the word, but she couldn't finish it.

"What are you trying to say?"

The figure began to disappear, and I called after it, "Tell me what you want me to know!" But when she disappeared, the world faded to complete black, and the cold was unbearable.

"Shadowpaw, wake up!"

I jolted awake, Flowerpaw hanging over me worriedly, "You were squirming and moaning in your sleep," she mewed, "I didn't know if you were okay."

My mouth felt dry from screaming in my dream, and I shook my head, "I'm okay."

My sister didn't look convinced, but I stumbled outside and stopped by the pool in the camp for a drink. The snow was piled around in the camp, swept away from the dens everyday to make sure the cats didn't get stuck in the dens. But the snow was only making my dream more vivid, and I shivered violently. My sister was still watching from our den, so I finished drinking and put on a brave smile, trotting back to the den. It was still dark, and Flowerpaw saw that I was okay and went back to sleep.

Curling in my nest, I breathed in deeply, hoping that I would at least get a bit of sleep before dawn came. Closing my eyes, I fell into another dream.

"Shadowpaw, fall back and get some reinforcements!" My father, Thornpelt called back, fighting off a huge brute.

"But I want to help!"

Thornpelt shot me a look of despair as he continued to fight. I jumped into the fray after him, hoping to save him from the rogue.

"Go get help!" My father shouted, "If you don't, we'll all be dead."

I stayed where I was, rooted to the ground. "I can't go back!" I yowled back, "I-" My father turned away and was fighting another cat.

I was thrown back, and I lay there, stunned as I watched my Clanmates get slaughtered around me. "Where is he?" A voice boomed, "Where is my son?"

The voice I heard in my dream before croaked, "Snow..."

As I continued to watch, my body refusing to follow my commands, I saw my father fall first. Then my mother. Then Brownpaw. And finally...Flowerpaw.

"No, stop!" I screamed.

The rogue leader stalked towards me and hissed, "Where is he?" His eyes blazed, though they were pits of black, "Where is my son?" He repeated.

"I don't know," I whispered.

He bared his teeth and lifted his paw.

As he brought it down...

Someone violently shook my awake. I let out a strangled cry and Flowerpaw's face once again appeared before me. "Shadowpaw, are you okay?"

I stared blankly at my sister's face, then whispered hoarsely, "I'm fine."

I pushed myself out of my nest and staggered outside, letting Flowerpaw trail behind me worriedly. As I stumbled out of camp, I heard my name being called, probably from Flowerpaw, but I didn't turn around and crashed out into the forest. I stared at my territory, and I whispered ever so faintly.

"Will war really destroy this place?"

Chapter Three

...when nothing else calls out to him...

When I returned to camp, Brambleflare acted as though I had went and got myself hurt. She stalked over and hissed, "What were you doing outside of camp?"

I blinked, a little startled by her approach. "I had a nightmare," I confessed, "And I went outside to get some fresh air and to be alone for a little bit."

That made her narrow her eyes, "How long were you outside?"

Before I could answer, Thornpelt appeared behind the deputy and whispered something into her ear. I could only hear snippets of it. "...young...doesn't...rogues..."

When they turned back to me, I pretended I didn't know what had happened between my father and my mentor. Brambleflare grudgingly dismissed me and mewed, "Get some prey to eat then join my for a quick border patrol."

I nodded and hurried to grab a mouse. Flowerpaw and Brownpaw were already sitting in front of the apprentice den, eating a squirrel. "Hey, Shadowpaw!" Brownpaw called out to me. I nodded back to him and saw Flowerpaw shoot me a concerned look.

Crouching down to gobble down the mouse, I saw Snowblossom chatting with Thornpelt, their heads bent together, worried looks filling in their eyes. Occasionally, I would see Snowblossom shoot me a look, or Thornpelt glance over at me with a dark look in his eyes. Something was going on and I wanted to know what.

"You okay?" Flowerpaw murmured, leaning over to give my shoulder a comforted lick.

"I'm fine," I smiled at my sister, though I didn't feel fine at all.

Rainpaw padded out of the den yawning, and I found myself glancing over at the young gray she-cat. Brownpaw coughed awkwardly, and Rainpaw turned, seeing my eyes on her.

I muttered something inaudible and focused on my mouse instead. Rainpaw's gaze seared my back, and then she herself got a crow and settled next to me.

Lionpaw stretched and trotted out of the den, and purred, "Rainpaw's getting comfortable for once?" His sister gave him a glare.

Brownpaw tried not to look at me, and I rolled my eyes, finishing off my mouse. "Well while you fools are trying to find a pair for Rainpaw, I'll go do my border patrol."

As I padded away, I heard a snicker and a sigh as Rainpaw padded after me, "Just my luck that we're on the same patrol," Rainpaw muttered, "Immature brats."

I hid my smile and rolled my eyes, "Wow, thanks."

Rainpaw rolled her eyes and trotted towards her mentor, Thornpelt. My father was talking with the deputy again, and when I approached them, he abruptly turned and muttered, "We'll talk later."

"Let's go," Brambleflare mewed briskly, "We need to mark the rogue border."

Thornpelt shot her a confused look, but followed anyways. Rainpaw stayed by my side, and even with the tension in the air, we managed to keep a light-hearted conversation.

"You know, you're very attractive." I blurted out when we started to talk about young love and all that good stuff.

Rainpaw looked slightly amused. "It's a thing Lionpaw reminds me of everyday."

I wasn't sure how to interpret that. "I don't think it's a good thing if only your brother notices you every morning," I purred softly, "No other toms?"

Rainpaw's eyes didn't waver, "Nah, not my style."

But there was something else she wanted to say. I held my breath, almost certain I wanted to her to tell me one specific thing. Her blue eyes stared at me for a moment longer, than she turned away and I didn't press the thought.

We walked in silence for a bit.

Brambleflare halted, and I recalled the territory I had seen when we were near the RainClan border yesterday. So that's rogue territory.

Rainpaw herself seemed to stiffen when the border drew near, and Thornpelt drew in a sharp breath. Rainpaw glanced over at me, but neither of the warriors would dare look over their shoulder. I narrowed my eyes and exchanged looks with Rainpaw.

"Foolish Clan cats, getting so close to the border."

Instantly, Thornpelt pushed my back, blocking their view of me. "Run," he mouthed, "Get some reinforcements."

My dream flashed in my mind, so I turned and ran. Shouts sounded behind me, and I raced through the forest, praying that Rainpaw would be alright with just two warriors to protect her.

"Going somewhere?"

I froze as I saw a pretty golden she-cat in front of me. She tilted her head, her eyes surveying me. "Interesting," she purred softly, "I've heard about you."

"From where?"

"The boss has a kit, a son, that looks somewhat like you. You're too much of a coward to be his son though," the she-cat smiled, though it looked fake, "Well, I can't allow you to get reinforcements now can I?"

I lunged, but she fell back to take the blow, then rolled aside. I crashed onto the ground and groaned, only to be pulled up by the she-cat.

"Nice try," she whispered in my ear, "I know you can do better."

I gritted my teeth as she shoved me forward, putting me farther away from the camp. "Help!" I shrieked, only to be choked. The she-cat's luminous green eyes pierced me, and I snarled, only to cough and splutter as she cut off the air I had.

"They call me Autumn," she breathed into my ear, "I am the leaf fall of your Clan, the end of green-leaf for every cat I meet."

She stepped off me, but I was slowly slipping into unconsciousness, barely gasping for breath, "Soon, I will be your leaf fall, kit."

Then she was gone, and all I could hear was the distant screams of my Clan mates I couldn't save.

Chapter Four

...when danger pulls him in...

When I woke up, Creamheart was hanging over me, with Blossompaw moping beside her. "Do you feel okay, Shadowpaw?"

I stared groggily around at my surroundings. "What happened to the cats on my patrol?" I rasped. I prayed to StarClan that they were okay.

"Almost all of them are fine," Creamheart mewed briskly, "But you need your rest."

Rainpaw... I sat up instead, and immediately cringed at the pain pounding in my head. "Are they all alive?" I croaked.

Blossompaw's head shot up, and an anguished look filled her eyes. I flinched, then let out a soft moan of pain.

Creamheart helped me lay back down, then she murmured, "Most of them escaped with minor injuries, nothing too serious."

Silence stretched between the two of us.

Then I whispered, "Most? What happened to the other...?"

The medicine cat looked grim, and she sighed, "She's lucky she's still alive," Creamheart said softly, "She might not make it."

"Who?" Panic rose in my voice. At least Thornpelt was alright.

This time Blossompaw looked up again, and the sorrow in her eyes makes me want to eat my words. Creamheart shook her head and nodded to the nest next to me. I looked over, unable to resist myself. The sight of who was laying there sucked the breath out of me.

"Rainpaw!"

~

I curled in my nest, refusing to open my eyes. I didn't want to see Rainpaw laying in her nest, bleeding her life out.

I constantly berated myself over the past few days for not managing to get help. I wished the she-cat Autumn hadn't stopped me, then Rainpaw wouldn't be fighting for her life...

"Shadowpaw, are you alright?" I heard my sister's voice sound from the entrance.

"I'm fine," I growled back, "I don't want to talk right now."

But she moved closer, and she mewed, "I'm sorry about what happened to Rainpaw. If you were there, you would have stopped those filthy rogues."

I didn't budge, "Leave me alone."

Flowerpaw sighed, "Get better soon, Shadowpaw."

I don't want to...

But I knew tomorrow would probably bring a new day of training with Brambleflare. She hadn't taught me anything yet, and if I had learned a few battle moves, maybe I could have beaten Autumn and gotten help for Rainpaw.

Wishful thinking, I knew she was way too strong.

Maybe I didn't want battle training...

~

"Wake up!" Creamheart bustled through her den, "You're good to go, Brambleflare wants you for a training session."

"Are you sure I'm okay to resume my training?" I asked, deflating a bit.

The medicine cat glanced over, "Yes, I'm sure, are you doubting me?" She raised at eyebrow in defiance, "You shouldn't doubt your medicine cat."

"I'm not," I mumbled, "I just don't want to go."

Creamheart paused and furrowed her brow, "Why not?" she asked, "Learning how to fight is important if you want to beat those rogues off our territory."

I looked away.

The pale she-cat prodded my out of my nest and nudged me towards the entrance, "Whatever's on your mind, clear it out. If it's the defeat, then forget about it. You need to have a fresh mind if you want to defeat those rogues one day."

As I plodded towards the entrance, I turned to stare at the medicine cat, "With your talking, you could sound like a warrior."

She looked amused, "But I'm not."

"No, you're not." I slowly agreed.

As I walked outside, I spotted my mentor organizing patrols. She seemed focused on keeping the Clan going after the devasting loss at the border patrol skirmish. When she saw me, her gaze seemed to darken a bit, but she put on a tight smile and beckoned me over.

I swallowed nervously, not sure why my mentor was acting so strangely, and trotted towards her. She finished saying the last of the patrols and turned to me.

"Today we're going to practice some battle moves," Brambleflare says with ease, "Hopefully you'll be able to use them to defend your Clan the next time we have a battle."

I felt like there was a layer of dread in her tone, as if she expected me to...not fight for BrookClan. I nodded as if that was what I was supposed to do, and Brambleflare seemed to relax a bit and led me out of the camp and towards the training hollow.

"Brownpaw and his mentor Leafshade will be there too," Brambleflare called over her shoulder, "You'll practice with Brownpaw after you master the moves I teach you."

"Alright."

She stood opposite of me, and she crouched, "Try getting past me."

I studied her stance. She was crouched low, so if I feinted, maybe she would react and roll that way to defend my attack, but she'd also be ready to leap back over in case of the feint.

A double feint.

I lunged for the left, then skidded and dove for her right. She saw it coming and brought her hing legs around, ready to trap me. I ducked and rolled back to the left, escaping her grasp and running past her. To the side, I saw Brownpaw getting bowled over by his mentor, and I felt a tingle of pride.

I spun around, just as Brambleflare lunged for me, and I ducked so she flew over my head. I turned again, but this time she walked back, after picking herself up.

"Good job," there was genuine warmth in her voice, "You did a good job with the feints, and analyzing my position."

"Now don't let me past you."

Instantly, I crouched slightly, watching her moves. She crouched low, her own eyes watching mine. I let myself take in the details. She was ready on her paws, which meant she could strike whenever she wanted to. I rocked on my paws, letting her think I wasn't ready for a quick attack.

Sure enough, Brambleflare suddenly darted forward, a quick charge towards me. I was ready and my paws flew forward to stop her, but I didn't see the twist in her paws and she veered to my right. My paws flew out and I crashed into air in front of me, and Brambleflare disappeared from my view.

I sighed inwardly. I hadn't seen it coming.

"Good try, but after you saw me make your first move, you didn't analyze my next one. You need to stay alert and watch every move the opponent makes." Brambleflare instructed.

Nodding, I prepared myself for the next blow. "I'm ready."

Chapter Five

...when everything goes quiet...

It was early dawn and Brambleflare hadn't started organizing the patrols yet. I slipped into the medicine den and stared at Rainpaw's limp form.

I felt guilty that I hadn't been able to save her, she deserved so much more...

"Shadowpaw?" 

I started when I realized Creamheart had spoken to me. "Yeah," I bit my lip, "It's me." I didn't turn around to look at her, and I continued to gaze at Rainpaw.

"Staring at her won't make her feel better," Creamheart advised.

I looked away, "I know, but I'm hoping she'll wake up..."

Creamheart stroked her tail along my flank, "Time will do that for you, Shadowpaw," she whispered, "You just have to wait for it to happen."

I'm tired of waiting.

Creamheart saw my expression and softened, "Check back tomorrow, alright? Perhaps Rainpaw will be awake then."

I nodded dully and backed away from the den. Seeing Rainpaw still down had left me drained and tired. I turned to thrust my way into the apprentice's den when Brambleflare called my name, "Shadowpaw! We're going hunting today."

Sighing inwardly, I faced the deputy, trying to look excited.

"Come on," she beckoned, "We're joining Silverbreeze's hunting patrol. We don't want to keep them waiting."

I trotted after her, hanging back. Flowerpaw was in this patrol, and she tried to start a conversation with me, but I stayed silent. I wasn't in the mood to talk.

"Alright," Brambleflare called out, "Let's split into pairs."

Flowerpaw immediately chose me as her partner, so I padded after her. "What's wrong, Shadowpaw?" Flowerpaw asked when we were a distance away, "You're not...like you."

"It's Rainpaw," I mumbled.

"What's wrong with her?"

I opened my mouth to respond, then I heard another voice purr, "I see you live, kit."

I froze.

A golden she-cat cocked her head from where she stood under the tree. I thrust Flowerpaw behind me, who let out a small squeak of protest. "I'm stronger now," I growled, "Leave us alone."

Autumn stretched, "I wasn't going to attack you. I just wanted to talk to you. Seems I was wrong about you before."

Flowerpaw was shivering behind me, and I sensed her discomfort. "Leave me alone!" I snarled, backing away.

"Aw, come on kit, is your name Shadow?"

I nearly flinched. How had she guessed? "No," I growled, "It's not Shadow."

"Shadowpaw then," Autumn nodded, "We're getting somewhere at least. Who are your parents?" She tilted her head.

"Why should I tell you?"

Autumn's green eyes bore into my own eyes, "You don't know then." Her expression didn't change, and she seemed to be taking mental notes about me.

"I do know!"

"Then why don't you tell me?" Autumn purred without mirth, "Prove to me that you know, come on! You seem smart, Shadowpaw."

"They're two Clan cats that you don't need to know," I spat, "Satisfied?"

Autumn shook her head, "Not yet," she smiled slightly, "If only you knew..." She stalked closer, causing me to back away, "Boss wanted me to tell you."

"Tell me what?" I bristled in fear.

She leaned in close and whispered, "You're living a lie, Shadowpaw, do you know who your real parents are?"

Before I could reply, Autumn was gone. Flowerpaw, stood shakily, "Shadowpaw, what was she saying?" She sounded scared.

I stood there, blinking, "Many things," I breathed out, "Many mysteries..."

~

When we got back to camp, laden with prey, I found Thornpelt lounging in the sun. "Thornpelt, can I ask you something?"

My father looked up.

"Of course," he looked surprised, "What is it, Shadowpaw?"

He never calls me son.

The realization struck me before I could continue. I bit my lip, then hurried on, "Thornpelt, who are my real parents?"

Thornpelt blinked, "Shadowpaw...what are you getting at?"

"I figured something out," I lied, "Please, I need to know. Aren't I a Clan cat?"

My father shook his head, "No...I found you out in the wild."

"What are you implying?" I breathed out, afraid of his response now.

"Your father is looking for you. You're the reason the rogues are attacking."

Chapter Six

...when everything falls apart...

"What?"

Thornpelt sighed. "Brambleflare found out that the rogues were searching for you shortly after we found you. There were rumors that the rogue's leader lost his son in a snowstorm and he was trying to find him. Soon after, we figured out it was you."

"And you didn't tell me?"

My father-no he wasn't my father anymore-looked away, "You were a moon old, Shadowpaw. Nobody wanted to tell you that it was all your fault."

"Well it is and I have to live with the fact anyways!" I shouted.

Several cats glanced over at me, and Thornpelt lowered his voice, "Look, I'm sorry we never told you, but do you think you would have felt better if you had known?"

No.

I turned away, "Whatever," I muttered, "The harm's already done."

I could feel Thornpelt's gaze follow me. I passed by the medicine cat then and spotted Blossompaw hurrying to give Creamheart some herbs. The memory of Rainpaw's limp form made me wince as I pushed my way into the apprentice's den.

I can stop all this from happening again. I could save my Clanmates.

The thought surfaced in my mind. Hadn't I always wanted to do that? Now that I knew the truth, I could stop the rogues from invading our territory.

Tomorrow... I vowed. Tomorrow I would change my Clanmates' lives.

~

Dawn came before I had realized it. I shot out of my nest and hurried to the dirt-place tunnel, pretending I needed to use it.

I slipped through the tunnel and hurried on, determined to find one of the rogues before a Clanmates could stop me.

They don't have to suffer anymore.

For a moment, I envied them. They didn't have to deal with the fact that they were born from two rogues and that it was their fault that their Clanmates were dying.

I pushed Rainpaw to the back of my mind. I hadn't visited her again or said goodbye. It's too late to think about that now, I told myself, This if for her anyways. If I don't do this now, she might get even more injured, or worse, killed.

I wouldn't let that happen. I couldn't.

This convinced me to keep going.

I raced through the forest, the sun slowly lighting it up. I prayed that Brambleflare wouldn't check the apprentice den so early to call me for a patrol. I had to do this.

Nobody could stop me.

"Going somewhere?"

I froze and looked up. Autumn was lying gracefully on the tree branch. "What do you want?" I snarled. Autumn was the last cat I wanted to turn myself in to.

She cocked her head, "What are you doing out here so early in the morning? Surely you Clan cats know better than to come out alone." She smirked, "Or is this planned?"

How does she know me so well?

"I want to stop the war," I snarled.

Autumn let out a sharp laugh, "What makes you think you can do that?"

I frowned at her carefree demeanor. "I know that your boss is looking for me and that's what ignited the war. If I turn myself in, then he'll stop attacking the Clans, BrookClan especially. I don't want anymore bloodshed."

I paused, waiting for her reaction. Autumn leaped down from the tree and surveyed me, "Boss said you were his kit," she agreed, "But you're too scrawny to be of any worth. The boss himself has already seen you and to be honest, he doesn't think you're worth much."

"Well, he still wants me, right?"

Autumn purred without mirth, "Of course, having his son back would be nice. He could try to make you into the next Bloodscratch leader. Though you're not really the reason he's attacking. We would be foolish to expend our energy in looking for you. We have plans I cannot tell you of."

I narrowed my eyes, "Alright, so if I turn myself in, he'll pull back and stop attacking the Clans, right?" I could stop the war.

This time the she-cat snorted, "You're really bent on being the hero aren't you? Well sorry to break your bubble, but turning yourself in won't do anything. Sure, the boss will be happy to have a heir-even if you're a useless one-but he won't stop his raid."

"What will stop his raid?"

Autumn blinked, "When he gets what he wants of course. What else?"

"At least let me talk to him and try!" I hissed, taking a step forward. Surely I still had a chance at saving my Clanmates?"

"Silly," Autumn smirked, "The boss doesn't want to see you yet. He wants you to completely give up on your Clan first. So I'm afraid I can't let you through at all."

"Try to make me stop," I growled, lunging forward.

Autumn frowned as she dodged, "Now, now, fiesty tom, I'd rather we not get into a fight. My boss doesn't like me attacking you, he says it's injustice on his son."

"All the better for me then," I turned to face her again and leaped.

Autumn slipped out of my grasp yet again, and to my frustration, she kept me in front of her so I couldn't get past her and reach wherever they lived.

"Boss trusted me to stop you, and that's what I plan to do," Autumn smiled, though it didn't reach her eyes, "I hope you'll understand what this means."

"Wha-?" Before I could say anything else, I felt her paw hit my head hard.

I fell, darkness edging the corners of my vision, engulfing me in it's embrace.

Chapter Seven

...when your life is a lie...

There were noises near my ear. I stirred and tries to open my eyes. I blinked, trying to clear my gaze. Everything was blurry and I couldn't make out the shapes standing near me.

They were speaking. It took a moment for me to decipher what they were saying.

"Is he okay?"

"You mean he was out there, knocked unconscious?"

"When did he leave?"

"It seems he left before dawn, for whatever reason and encountered a rogue. It must have been a losing fight because there was no blood or anything. All I found was him, crumpled on the ground." It sounded like Brambleflare.

"How long was he out there?" It was Snowblossom's voice. She sounded worried, and I reflected on the many times she cared for me-when I thought she was my mother.

"I saw him go out at dawn." Thornpelt's voice sounded.

"So from dawn till now," Oakstar growled, "He was foolish to go out on his own. When he wakes up, we must ask what he was doing."

I don't know what compelled me to sit up, but I ended up blinking groggily at the five cats before me. Creamheart was standing a little back, checking on Rainpaw. Brambleflare, Oakstar, Snowblossom, and Thornpelt were gathered in front of me, all of them staring. I gulped and tried to find my voice. "What happened?" I croaked.

Brambeflare narrowed her eyes, "I'd ask you the same question, Shadowpaw."

Snowblossom stepped forward, "We've been so worried about you, Shadowpaw! Thornpelt told me he saw you sneaking out the dirt tunnel at dawn and you didn't come back for a long time. Then Brambleflare went out to find you and she discovered you sprawled on the forest floor, barely breathing and-"

Thornpelt laid his tail on Snowblossom's should to calm her. "He's alright now," Thornpelt murmured. He also gave her a warning look, probably reminding her that I knew they were no longer my parents.

Brambleflare stepped forward, her eyes angry, "What were you doing outside by yourself, Shadowpaw? You must have known it would be dangerous. You've also encountered the rogues before, you know ruthless they could be. This is the second time you've ended up in the medicine cat den after fighting against the rogues."

She took a deep breath, then continued. "I'm so frustrated and disappointed with you! I thought you would have more sense and understand that the territory isn't so safe right now and you should always have another cat next to you when you go out. Also, why were you so close to the rogue border? Don't tell me you've been conspiring with them, Shadowpaw, I-"

"Brambleflare, stop," Oakstar ordered, "I understand you have a lot to tell Shadowpaw, but let me handle this."

The deputy paused. She looked like she wanted to argue, but she relented and took a step back, her eyes smoldering.

Oakstar glanced down at me, "You were found without a scratch, just like last time," Oakstar started slowly, "The rogue scent was also the same. Do you know who it was? Can you describe what this rogue looked like?"

"Yes," I found it hard to speak, "Her name was Autumn, and she's like an orange-ish color. Kind of like Sunfire, but she was female. She also had green eyes, not amber. She said she would be the 'leaf-fall of the Clan'."

"Autumn is another name for leaf-fall," Thornpelt agreed, "That must be why she was named that way. Does she fight well?"

"Yes," I nodded again, "She was an excellent fighter and I found it hard to land a blow on her. She didn't seem like she was fighting to harm me though, the first time she suffocated me so I would faint, and the second time she knocked me out."

"Not a scratch," Oakstar frowned, "There must be a reason why you were spared of injuries."

I shrugged, then winced in pain, "She said the boss had a kit like me. That was before I knew I wasn't Clan-born. Then the second time..."

Brambleflare narrowed her eyes, "Why were you out there, Shadowpaw?"

I froze, not really willing to admit what I had planned to do. "Please tell us," Snowblossom begged me, "We can protect you better this way."

"I don't need your protection!" I spat. Snowblossom flinched and I bit my lip. That came out harsher than I expected. "I...I wanted to end the war."

"End the war?" Brambleflare exploded, "What makes you think you can do that, Shadowpaw? You've had one session of battle training and you think you can defeat all the rogues?"

"Not like that!" I protested, "I heard that the boss is looking for his son, so I thought if I turned myself in, they'd stop attacking the Clans."

"A noble cause," Thornpelt murmured, though he looked guilty because he had been the reason I was so reckless.

Brambeflare shook her head in disbelief, "I don't know who told you that you were Slash's son, but you were foolish to think you could stop the war yourself."

Oakstar frowned, "Shadowpaw, tell us everything about your encounters with this Autumn. She seems to be Slash's main assassin, and she sounds like a formidable opponent."

So I told them everything, starting from when I wanted to get help in that first skirmish I had with the rogues, then to when Flowerpaw and I had collided with Autumn on accident and the news she told me. Next, I informed them of my confrontation with Thornpelt and what he told me. Finally, I told them what Autumn had said when I tried to get past her just now."

Everyone was silent after that.

Unease pricked at my belly. "Is it my fault?" I asked quietly, "Is it my fault that this war is happening? Am I the reason for everything?"

Nobody would meet my gaze. Nobody would answer my question.

"Is it?" I repeated.

Oakstar let out a sigh.

"Yes, Shadowpaw, I'm afraid it is."

Chapter Eight

...when you can't control your fear...

I stayed silent for a whole minute afterwards. I could feel their stares, but I didn't look up. I stared right down at my paws, wishing I could disappear. Wishing that I didn't exist. Wishing that my Clan was safe.

Wishing that I could stop the war.

But according to Autumn, nothing I did would stop the war. I was completely useless. The only thing I ever did to contribute to this war was starting it.

When did life get so difficult?

The silence dragged on, until a tiny gasp shook us all out of our solitude. "What's going on...?" A soft voice asked, "Why are there so many cats in here?"

Creamheart pushed past Thornpelt to see Rainpaw sitting up slowly. "Rainpaw!" She hurried over, "Please don't strain yourself, you're still in a bad condition. Lay back down, dear, you need more rest."

I sat there, stunned, staring at Rainpaw.

"Go ahead," Snowblossom murmured into his ear, "Go talk to her. It'll help you cool off, and it may help you forget your worries."

Numbly, I edged my way towards the dark gray she-cat's nest. "Rainpaw?" I asked hesitantly, "It's me, Shadowpaw."

Creamheart had already left her side and was making a poultice for her wound. When Rainpaw curled up tighter and didn't reply, I added, "I'm sorry about your injury and how you got hurt."

"Go away, Shadowpaw," Rainpaw muttered, "Please."

I was taken aback by her tone. "I'm really sorry," I stuttered, "We can talk, I...I've been worried about you and-"

"Please, Shadowpaw," she interrupted me, "I need time alone."

I froze.

Never have I thought that Rainpaw would one day reject my company and turn her back on me. I couldn't reply, I couldn't do anything.

"You best go back to the apprentices' den," Creamheart advised, "Get some rest yourself. Oakstar and Brambleflare are outside, they want a word with you."

I started to back away. "Okay," I mewed in a small voice. Turning quickly, I started to walk out the medicine cat den. As I neared the entrance, I shot a glance over my shoulder at Rainpaw before pushing my way outside.

Oakstar and Brambleflare were indeed standing outside impatiently. "Shadowpaw," Oakstar greeted me, "I assume Creamheart told you to go to the apprentices' den to rest?"

I nodded wordlessly.

Brambleflare sighed, "You're confined to the camp for three days."

Oakstar shot his deputy an annoyed glance and mewed, "Yes, you are, Shadowpaw. We want to prevent any more...incidents like today. You'll stay in the apprentices' den, and three days should be enough for your to recover from any sort of injury Autumn might have given you. In the mean time, you can also help with the bedding and such."

More boring stuff.

Even though my mind protested that I shouldn't have to do such things, I nodded obediently and stepped past them to make my way towards my nest. I just wanted to curl up and sleep.

Brambeflare stopped me with her tail. "Shadowpaw," she mewed sternly, "Don't do anything like that again, do you hear me? I don't want you risking your life for no reason," her eyes softened, "We'll still do a bit training in these three days, okay?"

I didn't tell her that the reason I went outside today wasn't for some silly whim. It was for my desire to save my Clanmates and end the war. It was for my need to keep Rainpaw safe, to protect my foster family from being hurt any more than they have already.

Instead, I nodded and mewed, "Thanks, Brambleflare," I murmured, "For finding me earlier."

She nodded briskly, "Go get some rest, Shadowpaw, tomorrow you'll first clean out the dens, then you'll do some battle training with me."

I pushed my way into the den and nearly bumped into Flowerpaw and Brownpaw. Both were avoiding my gaze, and Flowerpaw opened her mouth to say something, only to be shoved ahead by Brownpaw. "Sorry," the brown tom muttered, "We, er, need to go."

I watched them hurry away to join their mentors. Lionpaw's scent wreathed over me, and I heard him mew, "I heard that Rainpaw woke up today."

"Yeah," I mewed glumly, "I was there."

Lionpaw arched his eyebrow, "Did you and Rainpaw have a gushy reunion? Is that why Brambleflare and Oakstar exited earlier?"

I frowned, "No, that's not what happened."

"What then?" the golden tom teased, "Aw, surely you two didn't start stating your undying love in front of everyone else! That would bore them to death. I certainly would have gagged and pretended I was dying myself because-"

"I don't want to talk about it," I hissed, trying to make my way to my nest.

"Tell me what happened!" Lionpaw begged, "Creamheart probably won't let me ask Rainpaw, because she'll tell me how illogical it is for her to-"

"I. Don't. Want. To. Talk. About. It." I pressed one paw against his chest and shoved him aside, "Just leave me alone, please."

Lionpaw fell silent, his golden eyes on me. He didn't say anything else as he slowly walked out of the den and left my alone.

I was always alone.

And I always will be.

~

When I woke up in the morning, Brambleflare told me to start on the dens. Nobody really spoke to me, and when I poked my head in the medicine cat den for spare moss, Rainpaw averted her eyes. Creamheart gently passed me the moss and told me that Rainpaw was still healing.

For the day, I cleaned out all the dens, content with the silence that engulfed me as I worked. I spotted Flowerpaw and Brownpaw heading out on a hunting patrol, though I didn't see them come back. Later, Thornpelt lead a border patrol with Brambeflare and a few other warriors. Lionpaw went to do some battle training with his mentor.

I was left alone again.

I didn't mind though, it helped me keep away the dark thoughts. When I was finished with the dens, the sun was nearly setting, and Brambleflare had yet to come back to do a training session with me.

Then I spotted Rainpaw. She was tottering outside the medicine cat den, with Creamheart next to her to support her. On instinct, I headed her way.

She spotted me immediately, and hesitated. She turned to Creamheart, as if to ask if they could head inside, but Creamheart whispered something into her ear and padded into her den.

That left me and Rainpaw alone, facing each other breathlessly.

"Rainpaw..."

"Shadowpaw," she looked away.

"Look, um-"

"I don't really want to talk," Rainpaw murmured, "I'm a bit tired...I'm going to to back in the den, okay? I'll see you tomorrow."

I stopped her before she could move into the den. "Please, Rainpaw, if you care, you would tell me what's on your mind."

She hesitated again, this time, pain showing in her eyes. "What is it?" She lowered her gaze sorrowfully, "What do you want to talk about?"

"Why are you ignoring me?" I blurted out, "What's wrong?"

She bit her lip, and turned her head away. After a few seconds, she met my gaze, anguish plain in her eyes. She took a deep breath and mewed.

"I didn't want to be a burden to you."

Then, before I could stop her, she raced out of camp.

Chapter Nine

...when life turns around...

At first, I'm stunned by her response and reaction. I didn't register that Rainpaw had just ran out of camp, out into the dangerous territory that may be swarming with rogues.

Then it clicked.

"Rainpaw!" I shouted, racing after her, "Don't go out there, stop!"

She disappeared through the tunnel and I hopped in after her. Before I could make it through, two cats stopped me. "I have to go after her!" I snarled, "Let me go!"

Flowerpaw raised a paw to stop me. "Shadowpaw," she mewed softly, "We need to talk."

I turned away, "Later," I begged, "Rainpaw needs me."

"This is important!" Flowerpaw practically sobbed, "You don't understand," she averted her gaze, "This has to be done now."

Brownpaw flanked his sister. "Please listen to her, Shadowpaw, this may be our only chance to ask. We need to know the truth."

Flowerpaw had tears in her eyes, "Is it true? Are we really not siblings? Are you some rogue kit our father found? Is Snowblossom not your mother too?"

I stood there for a second, Rainpaw momentarily forgotten. "Yes," I whispered, "It's true." Immediately, Flowerpaw dropped to the ground and started crying. Brownpaw stroked her flank, pressing against her reassuringly.

"How much do you know?" Brownpaw asked, still looking shocked.

"A lot," I dropped my gaze.

Brownpaw laid his tail on my shoulder, "Please...we're still siblings, no matter what they say. You're still our brother. Please tell us."

I sighed and didn't lift my gaze, "It started with when Rainpaw got hurt..."

I told them everything, from when I first met Autumn, to the multiple encounters I had with her. Then to when I confronted Thornpelt about my heritage and the horrifying answer I had gotten from the tom I thought was my father.

Then to my most recent stunt.

"They lied to us," Brownpaw frowned, "Why?"

I shrugged, "I don't care," I muttered, "It's all my fault anyways."

Brownpaw eyed me weirdly, "Your fault? Why do you say that, Shadowpaw? None of this is your fault, you were just a kit lost in the blizzard, right?"

I bit my lip. When I opened my mouth to confess my fears, Brambleflare burst through the tunnel, carrying Thornpelt. "There are rogues out in our territory," she growled darkly, ignoring the fact that I wasn't supposed to be out of camp, "They attacked the two of us viciously."

"Thornpelt!" Flowerpaw choked out, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Is he...?" Brownpaw's eyes were wide with horror.

"He's dead," Brambleflare hissed grimly, "The rogues tore him apart."

I stared at my foster father, grief slashing at my heart. Brownpaw broke down like his sister, though I stood there, unmoving. Even though I was overwhelmed with sorrow that Thornpelt was dead, no tears came. I blinked and continued to stare.

"Let's get you three back to camp," Brambleflare added, "It's unsafe out there."

As she started to usher us back through the entrance, I stiffened. "Rainpaw's out there." Pushing past my mentor, I raced out of camp. I heard her shout behind me, but I ignored her.

I continued through the forest, dodging trees and jumping over fallen branches and logs. I had to reach her. I couldn't leave her out here for the rogues to slaughter.

"Rainpaw!" I shouted desperately, "Where are you?"

"You're not a burden!" I cried out, "You mean everything to me! Please, wherever you are, answer me!" I nearly stumbled on a root in my frantic search.

She did answer me, though not in the way I wanted her to.

As I fell silent for a second, her scream pierced the night air.

Chapter Ten

...when you lose someone you love...

I started running again, towards the sound of her scream. I desperately scented the air in an attempt to locate Rainpaw's position.

Where is she?

"Rainpaw!" I called out, stumbling through the forest, "Rainpaw, where are you?" I strained to hear a reply, or even a scream to help me find her.

No reply came.

I hurried through the throng of trees. Rainpaw... Suddenly, I stumbled over something lying on the ground. I toppled over it and landed hard on my back. I groaned and lifted my head. The object was dark gray, and it seemed small though slightly flurry.

Realization dawned me and I hauled myself over. "Rainpaw!" I sobbed.

There was blood everywhere. Rainpaw wasn't moving, though I could still see the faint rise in her flank. I nosed her, trying to wake her.

I found the wound, someone had torn a gaping hole in her stomach and had left her to bleed. I hurried to gather anything: leaves, cobwebs, sticks that would cover the hole.

When I gathered what I needed, I pressed them to her wound, wanting to stop the blood flow and somehow save Rainpaw. She couldn't die now.

She let out a gasp of pain and her eyes fluttered open. "Shadowpaw...?" She blinked multiple times, and her eyes looked cloudy.

"Rainpaw," I whispered, "I'm going to save you. I'll bring you back to camp and Creamheart can make you feel better. I-"

"No," she shook her head weakly, "I was stupid to run out here. They found me alone and attacked... It's too late, Shadowpaw."

"It's never too late," I snarled fiercely, "I'll save you, Rainpaw, I have to." Tears welled in my eyes as I stared at her limp form. "You can't go," I whispered brokenly.

Rainpaw smiled sadly, "I'm sorry," she breathed out, "I didn't want to be a burden to you..."

"You're not," I mewed, crying now, "You were never a burden to me. You meant everything to me. You were my love, my anchor..."

I nuzzled her neck, wanting her to wake up fresh and new. "I love you, Shadowpaw," Rainpaw told me softly, "I'm sorry I have to go..."

No... "I love you too," I gasped out between my sobs, "Please don't go..."

Rainpaw opened her eyes one more time to look at me, "Don't blame yourself for what's happening," Rainpaw whispered to me, "None of this is your fault. Please be strong. Fight back with all your strength. Don't dwell in the past; focus on the future..."

"...for me."

She closed her eyes again and her flank fell and stilled.

I let out a wrenching scream. She was gone and it was my entire fault. Despite her words, I couldn't shake the fact that this war was partially my fault, and that if I hadn't gotten lost in the snowstorm, Rainpaw would still be alive.

Thornpelt would still be alive.

I clenched my teeth and stood up slowly.

"Well, isn't this charming?"

I whirled around and stared straight into Autumn's eyes. "You!" I screamed, lunging for her, "You left her to die, didn't you?"

Autumn stared back at me without emotion, "Of course, my dear Shadow, what else could I have done? Who tries to kill someone and then save them?"

I blinked back tears of grief, "It's all your fault she's dead," I hissed, "You're going to pay!" Without another word, I dove for her, bowling her over in my fury.

At first she didn't fight back, but then she knocked me backwards and tried to pin me down. I rolled out of the way and slashed my paw viciously across her flank. She didn't utter a scream, but narrowed her eyes and clouted me.

I stumbled backwards but regained my balance and charged again.

Autumn was watching me. She was analyzing how I attacked, so I shifted my stance at the last moment and caught her off guard. She rolled to the side and I paused. Autumn had her weight on her left side. When I darted forward towards her left side, she intended to throw her weight towards her right side and use her left leg to smack me.

So when I lunged, I feinted to the right and rolled to the left to before digging my claws into her shoulder. This time she did shriek, but I sank my teeth into her hind leg and yanked.

There was a tearing sound and Autumn let out a scream of pain. I stood over her, panting hard with blood dripping from a scratch on my cheek and my flank stinging.

"You shouldn't kill me," Autumn croaked softly.

I paused and glared down at her. "Why not?"

She eyed me, "Because I'm your sister. Siblings should be there to care for each other, with no one else around them. That's why your sweetheart had to go."

Hatred for the orange she-cat bubbled inside of me and I let loose a short laugh. "Well," I snarled, bringing my paw down, "I cared about her."

I closed my eyes as my claws sank into Autumn's neck. When I opened them up again, Autumn's eyes were dull and she laid crumpled on the forest floor in an awkward shape.

I killed her.

Chapter Eleven

...when you know nothing will ever go right again...

I stood there, shaking from grief, horror, and shock. I stared down at the cat who was my blood sister, who had caused all my misery and pain, who had died at my paws.

"What have you done?"

I turned slowly and stared into the eyes of a huge black tom. "Are you Shadowpaw?" He growled, his yellow eyes balefully staring at me.

"Yes," I hissed, "Who are you?"

The enormous tom glared down at me. He was watching me, as if trying to guess who I was. "Hm..." he snorted, "My mate had a kit called Shadow. I remember the pitiful little thing. It was you, wasn't it? You were lost in that snowstorm."

"Yeah and now you're attacking the Clans because of me!"

The tom laughed, "You're amusing, kit," he purred mirthlessly, "But no, I'm not doing this raid because of you. I want to destroy the Clans because this used to be our land. We were driven out slowly as the Clans settled. I want it back. Because they were driving us out, I lost you in the snowstorm. I'm attacking for the land, but getting you back would be wonderful too."

"The Clans are my home now," I snarled, "BrookClan will never fall."

"Slash!" A pretty white she-cat darted out of the woods, "The Clans are gathering, we must strike now." That voice...

"Snow...flake?" I uttered out.

The she-cat turned. "Who are you?" She mewed coldly, her blue eyes sweeping over me, "Slash, why are you dealing with some Clan scum?"

Slash glanced at Snowflake, "He's our son, Snowflake, not very promising though. He favors the Clan over his parents."

Snowflake... she's my mother!

"Shadow...?"

I nodded once. Snowflake's face showed no emotion. "Well," she demanded to Slash, "Do you want him or not? We have Autumn now-"

"Autumn's dead," Slash spat, "That one," he waved his claw at me, "killed her."

Snowflake froze, "How dare you," she stalked forward, "I-"

"Let me deal with this," Slash hissed, "You rally up the troops and attack BrookClan. Do it fast, I want this kit to be the last one standing."

Snowflake glared at me before disappearing. I don't think they want me back...well that's fine, I don't really want them as parents.

"Play with me," Slash eyed me, "Come on, show me what you got. Surely you must have some strength to defeat Autumn."

The image of Rainpaw, lying limp on the ground behind me filled me with rage. I lunged for Slash, bringing my claws along his flank. He merely pushed me off and his claws came down at lightning speed and dug into my leg.

I let out a scream and wrenched myself away from him, hopping back. Tears sprung to my eyes as my bad leg dragged across the floor. "Weak," Slash narrowed his eyes, "Weak Clan scum."

This time, I watched him. He was stalking forward, thinking I was too weakened to move. He had some old injury on his left leg. He liked to use his right leg to strike and then come in with a counter attack with his left. And if I happened to slip behind him, he would lean forward and kick out with his hindlegs.

He darted forward, and I blocked his first attack and knocked him backwards. I dove forward, ducking past his flailing paws and slipped up behind him.

My leg flared with pain, and I crumpled, screaming. Slash slowly hauled himself up, smirking slightly.

I tried to stand. My vision swam with red, and I tried to focus. Slash was already moving again, and I barely rolled out of the way before I felt his claws hit my ear. Blood ran down my cheek, and I panted with effort.

"Come on," Slash taunted me, "Do you hear your Clanmates dying around you?"

I could hear screams and yowls coming from all around me. They were fighting in the forest. "They are not my concern right now," I snarled, "Defeating you is my concern."

Slash smiled coldly, "You really think you can defeat me?"

Without answering, I sank my claws into his shoulders and pulled myself on top of him. He let out a surprised shriek, and tried to buck and throw me off. I clung on.

When he rolled over, I jumped up and landed on his stomach instead. Digging my claws firmly into the dirt next to him, I hissed, "I win."

Slash glared at my free paw, hanging right above his neck. "You're going to be a murderer now?" He asked softly, "Is that what you want?"

"I'm killing for the right reason," I fought to keep my voice steady, "Not like you."

He shook his head, "Doesn't family mean anything to you?"

"You took the one cat who could have been my family," I spat vehemently.

This is for you, Rainpaw...

Without hesitation, I brought my claws down and felt Slash's body go limp. I slowly dragged myself off him and stared at the three bodies around me.

Autumn, who was my blood sister, who I had killed.

Slash, who was my real father, who I also had killed.

Rainpaw, my only love and someone who died because I couldn't do anything to stop it.

I'm so useless...

Epilogue

...when danger no longer cries out to you...

All the cats around Shadowpaw were cheering. He was staring blankly down at Slash, knowing that he was the reason why he had no family. He was the reason the Clan cats had suffered in the first place.

"Shadowpaw, you're a hero!" Flowerpaw purred, the grief and shock already faded from her eyes, "You avenged Thornpelt!"

Brownpaw nodded, "You saved us all."

Shadowpaw should have felt elated. But he wasn't very thrilled. "Yeah, I think I really did it," he looked away, "But at what price?" He looked at Rainpaw's broken body, to Autumn's crumpled form, and the unmoving bulk of Slash's body.

"Look at what else I've done," Shadowpaw whispered.

Flowerpaw looped her tail around Shadowpaw. "Don't be like that," she scolded, "Yes, you killed a few rogues, so what?"

"What's wrong is that Rainpaw's demise is my fault!" Shadowpaw shouted, "And because she died, I couldn't control myself, resulting in my family's death."

Flowerpaw backed up, but Shadowpaw didn't apologize. "I don't belong here," he murmured, "None of you deserved to feel the grief you felt."

Brownpaw shielded his sister, "You can still have a family and a home here, Shadowpaw. We can still be your brother and sister. Snowblossom won't be able to stand it if she lost you. You're like her own son. And..." he glanced at hsi sister, "I don't know about Flowerpaw."

Shadowpaw shook his head sadly.

At the moment, Oakstar snaked his way to their sides. "Come you three," he ordered, "We must gather the Clan in the Hollow to inform them of our victory."

Shadowpaw numbly followed them back. "Cats of BrookClan!" Oakstar yowled, "Today, we fought bravely and managed to defeat the rogue group that has been wrestling with us for so long. Three apprentices also fought alongside us, and today, I shall give them their warrior name. Among them, Shadowpaw has done great deeds to help the Clan."

The dark tom kept his gaze on his paws.

"Brownpaw, step forward."

Oakstar waited for the Brownpaw to come forward. "I, Oakstar, leader of BrookClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in turn.

"Brownpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend this Clan with your life?" Oakstar asked solemnly.

"I do."

The leader nodded, "Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Brownpaw, from this moment on, you'll be known as Brownclaw. StarClan honors your bravery and courage, and we welcome you as a full warrior of BrookClan."

He repeated the process with Flowerpaw, naming her Flowershine.

Then he reached Shadowpaw. "Shadowpaw, please step forward."

Shadowpaw bit his lip and shook his head. "You all say I'm a hero, but I'm not," he whispered, "I'm a burden to you all. I must...go."

He turned to walk away.

"No!" Snowblossom cried out, "Please don't go, Shadowpaw," she pleaded, "Thornpelt wouldn't want you to go!"

Shadowpaw's eyes hardened, "Thornpelt's dead and it's all my fault!"

Oakstar called out to the young tom. "At least, before you go, please accept your warrior name. You may not believe it yourself, but you saved BrookClan with your actions. Despite the death that has happened, you were the one who defeated Autumn and Slash."

Shadowpaw paused and waited. "I cannot promise you that I would protect my Clan though," he mewed slowly, "So I cannot accept a warrior name."

Some of the others started to chant Flowershine and Brownclaw's names. "Flowershine! Brownclaw!" Shadowpaw wished he could cheer on his foster brother and sister, but he was leaving.

"Wait!" Oakstar continued, "Goodbye, Shadowflame."

Shadowpaw-now Shadowflame-stopped briefly and smiled to himself slightly. He could hear the Clan cheering. "Shadowflame! Shadowflame!" Most of all, he heard Flowershine and Brownclaw's voice, cheering him on.

He closed his eyes for a second, and then walked out of the camp. "Thank you, Oakstar," Shadowflame whispered, "But goodbye."

I'm sorry, Flowershine and Brownclaw, but I cannot stay here.

The End

Author's Note

This was dedicated to Vee because she won the bet so I had to write a story for her C: Vee's a great friend of mine, and I could write a story for her over and over if I had to <3

I hoped you like the story. I feel as though Shadowflame deserved a lot more, he had a really depressing life story :P If you liked this, please comment! And also, sign the fans ;)

Also, don't really count on a sequel. Shadowflame just goes out and lives his life really. What else can I say?? So yeah C:

Thanks for reading!

Fans! (I hope danger never cries out to you)

Sign down here if you're a fan <3 -- "I love you, can you stay awhile?" - Day ^

Nice Stormy ϟ Talk ϟ Fics 00:27, March 18, 2015 (UTC)

i'll comment later --Wolf, leopard, panda, falcon 04:14, March 18, 2015 (UTC)

ahh i love itt <3 -- failing to protect the ones you love... nothing hurts worse than that

This story was AWESOME - - - - Uuuhhhh...... How do I put my signature? Oh well -BeautifulSnowfur

Goob job, bro (yee, I totally said bro xd). The world was my oyster, but where was the pearl? 10:32, April 21, 2015 (UTC)

True awesomeness ^^ --And the sea was a reminder, mirror of givenlight 20:47, June 27, 2017 (UTC)

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.