|Fighting For Worth Series|
|Determined to Prove||Succeded by: |
I Will Conquer
Blurb: A kit of LeafClan, Mudkit, was born with a twisted paw. Pitied by his Clanmates, Mudkit is annoyed. He knows that he can do what they can - maybe just without the ability some have.
Supported by his sister, Shadekit, the only cat who understands him, Mudkit tries to prove his worth - but will he be able to do it?
When a prophecy comes to him, Mudkit is sure he's not in it. But his presence will shake the three Clans to their cores - and soon friction will be formed.
This is the first book in the Fighting For Worth Series .
Prologue (POV: Sorrelburr)
Pain rushed through Sorrelburr's bones and through her body. Flowerfall was beside her, white paw pressed against Sorrelburr's swollen belly.
"You have three kits, I think," she mewed. "The first one's coming."
The pain intensified sharply. Sorrelburr gritted her teeth to stop her from yowling. Out of the corner of her eye, a kit slipped out, still in its kitting sac.
Flowerfall licked the small bundle until the kitting sac popped. The gray-and-white kit mewled.
"It's a tom," Flowerfall mewed quietly.
He's beautiful. Sorrelburr only had one moment of peace before pain racked her bones again.
"Can someone go get some soaked moss?" Flowerfall meowed, sticking her head out of the den.
"I'll do it!" Mottlepaw, an eager young apprentice, bounced out of the camp.
"Be careful!" Mottlepaw's mentor, Pebblefrost, meowed.
Sorrelburr held back a sigh of relief. I'm so thirsty.
The pain rose again as a second shape slid out. Flowerfall went and licked the second kit. She raised her head when she had done.
"A she-kit," she whispered. "She looks like the darkest night."
Black kit, you say? Sorrelburr was strongly reminded of her mate, Swiftleap. He lived in the Clan with her, Sorrelburr was happy about that.
Because some poor she-cats are abandoned by their ma-
Sorrelburr's thoughts were cut off by a tidal wave of pain. Sorrelburr yowled in surprise. She saw the third kit come out, and she relaxed.
It's all over.
Sorrelburr licked the third kit until it mewled; Flowerfall inspected it.
"Another tom," she mewed. She padded out of the den. "Swiftleap! Come meet your kits!"
Sorrelburr drove the three shapes towards her belly, and they latched on.
Swiftleap padded into the nursery, tail held high. Sorrelburr purred weakly. He placed some moss near her nest.
"Mottlepaw brought this for you," he mewed.
Sorrelburr licked it. "Thank you... Now, what shall we call them?"
"The she-kit should be known as Shadekit," Swiftleap meowed. "And the gray-and-white tom, Birchkit." He rested his tail lightly on each kit as he named them. "You name the third."
Sorrelburr looked at the youngest kit. He was white with brown patches like mud. His front right paw was black; it looked a bit floppy, but Sorrelburr was too tired and exhausted to care.
"His name will be Mudkit," Sorrelburr mewed weakly.
"Have a good sleep," Swiftleap meowed, as he left.
As she closed her eyes, Sorrelburr only wished that her kits would be healthy, strong - and the best warriors they could possibly be, wherever their path took them.
Chapter 1 (POV: Mudkit)
"Hey, wake up!"
A small paw pushed into Mudkit's flank. He mewled crossly as he pushed it away.
"Come on! Don't you want to see our Clan's camp!" The same voice rang through the nursery.
"Someone's anxious," a deeper voice purred. "Kits are always very happy to please when they're young."
"Oh really, Whitepetal?" another voice replied. "When my kits were born, Shrewkit was never able to please Mousekit. In fact, pretty much every cat wouldn't be able to please her."
"Don't worry," another voice meowed. Mudkit recognized Sorrelburr's voice. Sorrelburr was his mother. "Mudkit will get up in his own time."
"But we want to explore the camp," the first voice mewed.
"Yeah, we want to explore the camp," another voice meowed. "Mousekit and Shrewkit are allowed out; why not us?"
"They're older than you, Birchkit," Sorrelburr mewed sternly.
"But we want to go outside..." Birchkit whined.
"Open your eyes!" the first voice hissed.
"Shadekit!" Sorrelburr scolded. "Don't you dare threaten your brother!"
"Okay, okay..." Shadekit muttered.
Mudkit nestled deep into his mother's fur. When he thought no-one was looking, he opened one eye. All he could see was a dark mess of gray-and-brown fur.
"It's dark in here," he complained.
"No, no, it's because your eyes haven't opened yet," Birchkit sneered.
"Be nice!" Sorrelburr mewed.
Opening his other eye, Mudkit groaned. All he could see was more gray-and-brown fur. Closing his eyes again, Mudkit rolled over.
Maybe if I try somewhere else, I won't see a gray-and-brown blur.
"Come on, open your eyes..."
"Please? Come on, Mudkit..."
"Fi-ine..." Mudkit exaggerated. Opening his eyes, he saw a black and a gray-and-white shape, eyes glaring into his fur.
"Mum!" Shadekit whined, as the black kit padded away. "Mudkit's opened his eyes."
"Okay then," Sorrelburr mewed. "Shadekit, Birchkit, ask Mousekit or Shrewkit if you can show you around."
"Okay!" Shadekit ran out through a gap, Birchkit behind her.
"Now," Sorrelburr mewed, as Mudkit turned his gaze to her, "stand up on your paws for me."
Mudkit tried to stand, but one of his paws wouldn't stand up right. He flopped back down into the nest.
"Try again," Sorrelburr mewed.
Mudkit tried and tried, but that paw prevented him. Eventually, he managed to, but the black paw would bend under his weight. Mudkit had to bend it under his leg it to do any use.
"Hmm..." Sorrelburr mewed, and then she looked worried, staring at Mudkit's paw.
What's up with my paw? Mudkit thought.
Sorrelburr, fur bristling yowled so loud that Mudkit fell over in surprise and nestled into Sorrelburr's fur again.
Chapter 2 (POV: Mudkit)
"It doesn't support me right. It's all floppy," Mudkit complained, holding his black paw up in the air.
"Hmm." A white she-cat with gray shapes like petals over her fur examined it, her blue gaze burning into Mudkit's brown-and-white pelt. "This is unusual."
What's unusual? Mudkit thought.
The gray-and-brown tabby she-cat padded into the den. "What is it?" she mewed anxiously.
Mudkit was in a different den, not the one that he, his mother, and his littermates slept in. He could see a crack in the wall, where many different smells mixed in the air.
"It's his paw," the white she-cat mewed worriedly. "I think it's twisted."
A twisted paw? What does that mean?
"Will this affect him in any way?" Sorrelburr mewed quietly.
"He will still be able to be a warrior," the other she-cat meowed. "But he will never be very fast, or be the best fighter. His paw will stop him from doing some things that other cats can do."
"Oh no! My poor son!" Sorrelburr screeched, her voice echoing around the camp.
Silence held for a moment. Then murmurs rippled through the cats nearby:
"Is he dead?"
"Is he about to die?"
"Has he been hurt?"
"Are you sure, Sorrelburr?"
"Has Flowerfall been unjust?"
"Silence!" An orange tabby she-cat padded through the small crowd of cats who had gathered outside the den. "I will see to this. Ravenwing, organize the sunhigh patrol and afternoon hunting patrols."
"Yes, Emberstar." A large black tom gathered the crowd of cats around him.
When the cats had wandered away to see Ravenwing, Emberstar padded into the den. Looking closely, Mudkit noticed that she had black ears, paws, and a black tail-tip.
"Okay, Flowerfall," Emberstar meowed. "Explain."
"Well, Emberstar..." The white she-cat explained the whole story.
When Flowerfall had finished, Emberstar nodded. "Very well," she mewed. "Sorrelburr, just leave here with your kit."
Mudkit felt teeth bite his scruff as Sorrelburr picked him up. Before a wave of blackness overcame him, Mudkit had just one thought:
What is going on?
Chapter 3 (POV: Mudkit)
"Let all cats gather under Rockfall for a Clan meeting," Emberstar droned.
Mudkit limped over to the edge of camp. Today Mousekit and Shrewkit would be becoming apprentices. His apprentice ceremony wouldn't be for another three moons. And Fallowpaw, Mottlepaw, and Rubblepaw were becoming warriors. How would he, not being able to fight very well, be able to fight? And the twisted paw was one of his front ones: it wouldn't help him at all with hunting: he wouldn't be able to catch prey.
Useless, useless paw. How would he be able to do anything? He didn't want to be a medicine cat: that was for sure. Herbal treatments were boring.
The chilling leaf-fall breeze ruffled Mudkit's pelt as Shadekit rushed over. She was the only cat who cared about him. Birchkit called him useless. Sorrelburr always bared her teeth at him. Swiftleap ignored him, as well as the rest of the Clan. And Whitepetal's kits: Gustkit, Mountainkit, and Windkit thought he was a loser, because he couldn't play games properly.
It wasn't my fault that I have a twisted paw, Mudkit thought angrily.
"Today we have three cats ready to become warriors," Emberstar rumbled dully from the top of Rockfall.
Mudkit sighed. Emberstar always droned during Clan meeting. It was really boring.
"- is Fallowpaw ready to become a warrior?"
"Yes, she is, Emberstar," Swiftleap meowed back to Emberstar, who was in mid-speech with the warrior ceremony.
"Pebblefrost? How about Mottlepaw?"
"Yes, he's ready, Emberstar," mewed, the black-and-silver tabby.
"And Pricklegorse?" Emberstar turned her head towards the spike-furred tom. "Is Rubblepaw ready?"
"Very well. I, Emberstar, leader of LeafClan, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on these apprentices. They have learned your noble code, and..."
"She drones a lot, doesn't she?' Shadekit whispered to him.
Mudkit nodded silently.
"...and Mottlepaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
"I do," the three apprentices chanted dully. It was well known that apprentices always droned at Emberstar at naming ceremonies: he had heard the older cats saying that she was 'very boring, and needed more excitement'.
"Them by the power of StarClan..."
Mudkit gazed away. What about, by some miracle, would he actually manage to become leader? He could imagine the moment right now:
"Cats of all the Clans, Emberstar has passed away. I am the leader of LeafClan, and blah blah blah is my deputy."
The cats below him chanted his name: "Mudstar, Mudst-"
"Mottlefur! Fallowbreeze! Rubblefall!"
Mudkit jolted awake. He had only just realize that the Clan had started chanting for the new warriors. He joined in unenthusiastically.
As Mudkit padded away, uninterested to watch the rest of the meeting, he had to wonder where his future lied.
StarClan, show me my path, please.
Chapter 4 (POV: Shadekit)
Shadekit watched Mudkit helplessly as he limped away. It wasn't his fault that he had the twisted paw. Why couldn't anyone see that?
Why do they have to be so stubborn? she thought angrily.
Switching her direction back to the ceremonies, Shadekit narrowed her blue eyes. Mousekit had seen Mudkit go away, and she had an evil face on, reflecting her hatred for him.
Why, StarClan, why?
"Mousekit and Shrewkit, from this moment until you receive your warrior names, you will be known as Mousepaw and Shrewpaw."
The Clan started to chant for the new apprentices. Shadekit joined in unenthusiastically. She was still annoyed with Mousekit - Mousepaw now.
"Shrewpaw, your mentor will be Sharpsun."
A large ginger tom padded up to Rockfall. He had been longing for an apprentice for as long as Shadekit knew him. She knew that Pricklegorse and Pebblefrost were his littermates. Shadekit presumed that because his littermates had had apprentices already, and that he hadn't, that was the reason why he was jealous.
"This is your first apprentice, and I can guarantee that you will train him well," Emberstar drones, flicking her black-tipped tail.
Shadekit turned her head towards where Mudkit went. He was hiding under a bush, a sour look on his face as he watched.
He must think that he can't become a warrior with that paw, Shadekit thought helplessly. I could persuade him to try.
Shrewpaw touched noses with Sharpsun before the two cats backed away.
"And Mousepaw, your mentor will be Hopefire."
Shadekit couldn't resist a note of glee. Hopefire! Mousepaw hated Hopefire! She wouldn't like that!
Mousepaw opened her mouth in shock, but both Hopefire and Emberstar ignored her.
"Hopefire, you also deserve an apprentice," Emberstar meowed. "You will mentor Mousepaw, and train her well."
The white she-cat turned her head towards Emberstar. "I won't disappoint you," she mewed. Her ginger-tipped fur ends glowed in the leaf-fall sun.
Mousepaw touched noses with Hopefire unenthusiastically. The Clan exploded into cheers:
Shadekit didn't join in. She needed to find Mudkit. Scuttling around the back of the crowd, she went to find the white tom.
Eventually, Shadekit found Mudkit under the same bush as he was during the ceremony.
"What are you doing here?" Mudkit snarled, yellow eyes blazing.
"Mudkit," Shadekit mewed calmly, we must talk."
Chapter 5 (POV: Mudkit)
"Look," Shadekit sighed, "does it have to be here?'
"Okay," Mudkit agreed. "Let's go hide."
Mudkit was still sour with envy, but was secretly happy with Mousepaw's choice of mentor. She treated him with a sour attitude - one which Mudkit would not forget in a hurry.
"Let's hide behind the nursery," Shadekit squeaked. "No-one ever goes behind there."
Mudkit nodded in agreement, and limped after Shadekit, who was hurtling across the camp towards the nursery.
When Mudkit finally arrived, Shadekit asked: "Anyone there?"
Mudkit looked around. Only the young warrior, Mistfur, was near, but she was busy with weaving things into the side of the warriors' den. The blue-gray she-cat always made sure that the whole Clan was nice and dry, at any point in the day.
"All clear," he whispered, as he led the way through, running at full speed. Shadekit headed off after him, when she was sure it was safe herself.
When they were behind the nursery, Shadekit straightened herself up. "I want to talk to you about that paw," she began.
Mudkit knew exactly which paw she was talking about. He narrowed his eyes, but said nothing.
"I still believe you can become a warrior with it," she went on.
"You have the ability," she mewed simply.
Before Mudkit could reply, he saw a starry shape, one with thick, gray fur, and blue eyes the colour of the sky. His mouth fell open in shock.
Shadekit saw it as well, for Mudkit saw her stare in shock. "Who are you?" she whispered.
"My name is Lakestream," the cat meowed. "I used to be a LeafClan warrior, the mother of your mother. Now, I hunt with StarClan."
StarClan. The word rang in Mudkit's mind. StarClan is real.
"I have come to give you a -" Lakestream hesitated for a minute. "-a prophecy."
"A prophecy?" Shadekit squeaked in awe.
Lakestream ignored her. The next time she spoke, her voice had turned smooth and deep: "The foot of mud and the fire under the shade will unite leaves, vines, and branches, once and for all."
"That doesn't mean anything," Mudkit mewed, confused.
"You will find out everything in due time," Lakestream soothed. "Until next time, goodbye." The space she was in faded into nothing.
The black she-cat turned to attention at Mudkit's mew.
"Promise not to tell any cat about this. This is our secret - we can do it together, on our own."
"Of course I won't tell," Shadekit promised. "Come on, let's go to mealtime."
As Shadekit and Mudkit raced away from the back of the nursery, the prophecy rang in his ears:
The foot of mud and the fire under the shade will unite leaves, vines, and branches, once and for all.
Chapter 6 (POV: Mudkit)
"Today, we are here to create some new apprentices," Emberstar droned unenthusiastically.
Mutters of disapproval rang through the Clan, Mudkit tried to ignore them. Why did they had to interrupt his day?
Whitepetal's kits, Gustkit, Mountainkit, and Windkit scuttled around the camp, on the snow-filled camp floor. Leaf-bare had created snow, some which most cats disliked, especially Ravenwing. The black deputy liked to complain about the snow.
Wait until Shadekit sees the snow, Mudkit thought gleefully.
"Shadekit, Birchkit, and - Mudkit," Ember mewed, "until you receive your warrior names, you will be known as Shadepaw, Birchpaw, and Mudpaw."
Most of the cats droned the names of the new apprentices unenthusiastically, despite Birchpaw being the most confident of the three. However, Shadepaw and Mudpaw both hated him, because he was a snob.
"Birchpaw, your mentor will be Ashdust."
Birchpaw gaped in shock as the black-flecked tom padded over.
Birchpaw may like Ashdust, Mudpaw thought, but Ashdust hates him.
While Mudpaw watched Birchpaw touch noses with Ashdust, he also saw Mistfur's young kits, Streamkit and Flashkit, sitting by their mother and their father, Sharpsun. The two cats were twining tails, looking content and happy. Mudpaw wished that could happen to him.
I wonder if any she-cat would fall for me.
"Shadepaw, your mentor will be Birdwind."
The former queen trotted over, green eyes shining.
"I am sure that you will train this apprentice well. You showed dedication when you nursed Mousepaw and Shrewpaw, and I expect you to pass on that strong will to your apprentice.
"I will, Emberstar," the black cat mewed, as she turned to touch noses with her new apprentice.
I'm next, Mudpaw thought worriedly. Emberstar will give me a cat who hates me.
Shadepaw and Birdwind touch noses with Birdwind, then the two cats backed away to sit by Birchpaw and Ashdust. Mudpaw was standing alone, with Emberstar looming above him on Rockfall. Her amber eyes rested on Mudpaw's twisted paw for a moment, then they strayed elsewhere.
She's pitying me. Like everyone else in the Clan.
Emberstar's mew snapped Mudpaw to attention. Mudpaw gazed up at her.
"We had a volunteer, who asked me to let him be your mentor."
Murmurs rippled through the Clan. However, Mudpaw didn't share their suspicion. He was sure he knew who it was.
Mottlefur was looking down as his black paws, looking guilty.
Mudpaw wasn't surprised by what her next word was:
Chapter 7 (POV: Mudpaw)
The white-streaked, black tom padded forward, tail held high, blue eyes shining.
It wasn't that hard to guess. You made it very obvious.
Mottlefur padded up to him. Mudpaw raised his head to see his face.
"You'll be all right," he whispered. "Just touch noses with me."
Mudpaw did what his new mentor said. He stretched up to touch noses with the dark tom. Mottlefur purred, delighted.
As soon as they broke apart, cheers were heard. Shrewpaw was leading them:
"Mudpaw! Shadepaw! Birchpaw!"
Soon enough, the other LeafClan cats joined in. Emberstar just watched. The orange tabby scanned the crowd of cats thoughtfully, and was flicking her tail at Featherdrift, Lizardfoot, Fallowbreeze, and Rubblefall - cats who were purposely leaving out Mudpaw's name.
I hope Emberstar punishes them, Mudpaw thought.
When the cheering died down, Emberstar made an announcement: "Lizardfoot, Featherdrift, Rubblefall, and Fallowbreeze - for being disrespectful, and not respecting some of your Clanmates, you will be guarding the camp for the next quarter moon at night, and none of you will be permitted to go to the next Gathering."
The four warriors complained, but said nothing.
"This meeting is dismissed."
The cats scattered around the camp. The kits went off to the nursery, while Mousepaw and Shrewpaw went to see Flowerfall, who was meandering outside her den. The warriors crowded around Ravenwing, who was organizing the day's patrols.
"Okay," the black tom mewed. "Cats who hunted yesterday, on this side." He flicked his tail to the direction he wanted them to wait. "Cats who hunted yesterday, on this side." He flicked his tail in the other direction.
Ravenwing had a special way of how he organized his patrols. As far as Mudpaw knew, VineClan and BranchClan didn't do it this way.
Mottlefur nudged him over to the 'hunted yesterday' side.
After the Gathering each moon, the cats changed their duties. Cats who were on the Gathering patrol hunted the day after, while the other warriors joined border patrols. They swapped duties every day. At the next Gathering, the process would be repeated, and vice-versa.
I like it this way, Mudpaw thought. Even though I haven't tried it yet, it's interesting.
Ravenwing padded to the group that did the borders yesterday first.
"Okay, hunters, this is what's happening today. Ashdust will tour Birchpaw around the territory. Sharpsun will lead a hunting patrol, with Shrewpaw, Featherdrift and Fallowbreeze. Lizardfoot will lead the other, with me, Swiftleap, and Sorrelburr."
Swiftleap and Sorrelburr purred and twined their tails as they exited through the thorny barrier.
"And the border patrols," Emberstar mewed, and she addressed the other group. "Birdwind, Mottlefur, and their apprentices will tour the territory. On the short border, Pebblefrost will lead, with Pricklegorse. On the long border, I will lead. Hopefire and Mousepaw will be with me."
The patrols led first out of camp. When they had left, the two bigger cats faced the smaller ones:
"Come on, let's go tour the territory."
The three able-bodied cats set off. Mudpaw limed after them, going as fast as he could. As he neared the barrier, a thrill of excitement rushed through him:
What's out there?
Chapter 8 (POV: Mudpaw)
The space opened up to a bare, cold, place, dotted with snow.
"Follow us," Mottlefur ordered.
The four cats went slowly, so that Mudpaw could keep up at a comfortable pace. Once in a while, Mottlefur would shoot his head back to make sure that Mudpaw was still keeping up.
Sorrelburr and Swiftleap were never like this, Mudpaw thought bitterly.
They stopped first at a border. A scent wafted over it - different to LeafClan's.
"This is the VineClan border," Birdwind meowed.
A bush rustled from across the border. Three cats stepped out: a dark ginger she-cat, a pale cat with darker parts, and a golden tom with pitch-black parts like shards.
"Greetings Birdwind, Mottlefur," the dark ginger cat meowed. "Who's with you?"
"New apprentices, Squirrelheart," Birdwind replied.
Squirrelheart's eyes drifted over Shadepaw, then Mudpaw. The dark ginger she-cat stared at Mudpaw's twisted paw.
"Where did the white one get that poor paw injured?" she asked.
"He was born with it."
"That's odd," the golden cat meowed.
"I'd agree with you there, Shardthorn," Mottlefur meowed.
"Anyway, what's their names?" the third cat mewed. He was the youngest of the three.
"Okay, we'll tell you, Beechpaw."
"It's Beechsand now," the pale ginger and dark brown cat replied.
"Oh, so you're a warrior now?" Mottlefur mewed. "Well done. This is Shadepaw and Mudpaw."
"Some good names," Shardthorn remarked. "Kits of?"
"Sorrelburr and Swiftleap."
"That's good to hear. Now, we have to go now," Squirrelheart interrupted. "May StarClan light your pats.
"And yours," Birdwind replied, as the VineClan cats left.
For the rest of the morning, they got shown everything: the BranchClan border, the Great Pine, and the training hollow, where they saw Birchpaw do a lopsided hunting crouch.
When they got back, the mentors had a talk with each other, dismissing Shadepaw and Mudpaw to have a bite to eat. When they had finished their meal - a mouse each - their mentors approached them.
"Want to go out again? And fight?"
"Come on, let's go training."
Mudpaw was enjoying his training so far. Maybe he could be a warrior after all.
Chapter 9 (POV: Mudpaw)
"Are you ready?"
Mudpaw took a deep breath. "Yes."
It had been a half-moon since his apprentice ceremony. Tonight, he, Shadepaw, and some other members of LeafClan had come to the Gathering, along with representatives from the other two Clans, VineClan and BranchClan.
The group paused at the top of the rise. Cats swarmed around in a clearing, surrounded by willow trees. A large lump bulged in the middle of the clearing.
"That bulge is the Great Hill," Mottlefur whispered. "That is where the leaders speak. Don't go on there."
Mudpaw nodded to show that he understood.
"LeafClan!" Emberstar's voice rang around the group. "Let's go down."
The twelve cats filed down the edge, then dividing.
"Where should we go?" Mudpaw asked Shadepaw.
Shadepaw shook her head. "Just stay with Mottlefur."
As they settled down, a second group of cats came into view. As they went down, Mudpaw noticed a small white cat was leading. It went up the great hill to meet Emberstar.
A light brown tabby she-cat went to see Flowerfall, with a golden apprentice. At the bottom of the Great Hill, a gray tabby sat by Ravenwing.
Eventually, VineClan arrived as well, and the meeting started.
"Cats of all the Clans!"
The white BranchClan leader called for the meeting to start. The cats silenced at once.
"Cats of the three Clans, welcome to this Gathering. Fallingstar of VineClan will speak first tonight."
A light brown tabby she-cat took her place at the front of the Great Hill. She had ginger patches on her pelt.
"VineClan is doing well. We have a new warrior: Beechsand. Otherwise, we are doing well and we have nothing to report."
The cats, mainly from VineClan, cheered for Beechsand for a while. When they had finished, Fallingstar stepped back, and the white BranchClan leader took her place.
"That's Clawstar," Mottlefur whispered. "BranchClan's leader."
"BranchClan is still strong. The snow has affected our hunting, but we are still getting enough food to eat every day."
Clawstar stood back, and Emberstar replaced him.
"LeafClan," Emberstar meowed, "Has three new apprentices. Birchpaw couldn't come to this Gathering, but Mudpaw and Shadepaw are here."
The cats around him chanted his and Shadepaw's names loudly.
When the cats' voices had become silence again, Emberstar continued: "Leaf-bare has taken its toll on us. The snow is cold and threatens to keep our warriors in their dens, but they are still committing themselves to Clan life." She nodded at Clawstar and Fallingstar. "Anything else to report?"
Both leaders shook their heads.
"Then this Gathering is over. Until the next full moon, may StarClan light your path."
Murmurs rippled through the Clans as Emberstar finished. A paw nudged into Mudpaw's side.
"What?" Mudpaw mewed huffily.
"Come on," Mottlefur meowed briskly. "It's time to go home."
Chapter 10 (POV: Shadepaw)
Shadepaw's fur bristled with fury. A group of BranchClan warriors had just accused them of trespassing on their territory.
Shadepaw lunged forward. They were outnumbered - four to five.
An apprentice jumped at Mudpaw, batting at him. The white tom pushed him away with his back legs, and the gray apprentice that he was fighting yowled in pain.
Mudpaw sat up, shook his fur, and lunged again. Shadepaw rushed to join him.
"I can handle it," Mudpaw growled, as he pinned down the apprentice, his twisted paw being thrusted in the cat's face.
Shadepaw nodded, and went to join Birdwind and Mottlefur, who were trying to fight three BranchClan warriors side by side. One had fled when they saw Mudpaw pin down the gray BranchClan apprentice.
Mottlefur raked his claws down a pale ginger she-cat's side. A brown tabby tried to did his claws into the black tom's side, but he missed. His blow was heading to Shadepaw's way.
Shadepaw swiped at him, and the brown tabby screeched.
"Grassdew, you wuss," the pale ginger cat growled under her breath.
"You're right, Seedgorse," Birdwind growled, as she jumped on the green-eyed warrior.
Seedgorse writhed in pain as Birdwind raked her claws down the she-cat's side.
"Stay off our territory," Shadepaw growled, joining Birdwind, in slaughtering the ginger she-cat.
Shadepaw nodded. She saw a white pelt flash at the edge of her vision.
Mudpaw! The gray apprentice must have fled!
Mudpaw scanned the three BranchClan cats, then leaped at a big tabby, who was fighting Mottlefur.
"You won't win," he growled, as his claws slitted Mottlefur's throat.
Mottlefur slumped to the ground, unmoving.
Mudpaw's voice was hoarse.
"Mottlefur." Mudpaw touched his nose to his mentor's fur. "I will avenge you one day."
Shadepaw and Birdwind struck at the two remaining warriors, making them screech in pain.
Seedgorse yowled the call, and she and the big tabby sprinted away.
"We've won," Birdwind whispered, "but at a terrible price."
The three cats gazed at Mottlefur's body. Mudpaw's eyes were hollow with grief.
"Let's go home," Mudpaw mewed. "Tonight we will sit vigil for Mottlefur, my mentor, my warrior, my protector."
This is the end of Book 1...
Look out for Book 2, I Will Conquer.