Dusks of Copper
A book in Stories of Flame
Dusks of Copper
You know that I wasn't a Clan cat at first, didn't you?
Yes, I thought so. I know that I have history within the Clan - even if they don't know it, there is some Clan blood in my veins, from my mother's father. But even curiosity couldn't make me turn to FlameClan alone.
It was my sister.
She didn't get what I believed. She thought it was wrong. And now... I have just learned a terrifying secret, and now I fear her with my life.
You want to know why? Here is my story. I must admit, I don't need to talk about my sister - that monster, although I'd never say that to her face - so I've left those bits out. Only the time that she pushed me too far, I'll tell you. That was why I turned to FlameClan.
And which one am I, and which one was she? You'll have to figure that one out for yourself...
Fifteen moons before the Preface...
“They’re beautiful, Mercury... Just beautiful.”
A dark gray tabby tom stood over a reddish-brown she-cat, who was lying weakly on the ground. Four small shapes were by the she-cat’s belly – two gray, one golden, one a dark ginger tabby.
“Three she-cats and a tom,” the dark gray tom mewed, his warm blue gaze set on Mercury. “What are we going to name them?”
In the fading light, the dark gray cat saw the tom-kit – the sleek one – pummel into his mother with tiny paws. One of the she-kits – the golden one – mewled in protest.
“Titan,” Mercury wheezed, placing her skinny tail on the back of the tom-kit. He didn’t react to the movement, just buried his face deeper into Mercury’s reddish-brown fur.
“And what about the she-kits?” The dark gray cat continued to press his mate on.
Mercury shot her mate one fierce green gaze. “You will name one of them, Caesar,” she mewed thickly. “I will name two of them. Surely you must have a chance to name one of your kits?”
Caesar gave a weary sigh. “Fine,” he grumbled, looking down. However, the direction of where he was looking changed quickly, as he turned back to looking at his kits.
This time, Mercury laid her tail on the other gray kit, who gave a mewl as her mother’s tail brushed her back. “Sylvie,” she murmured, and then she brushed it over to the golden kit. “Goldie.” Mercury spoke again, as she looked at the golden kit. Then Mercury lifted her tail, and shot a glare at Caesar. “Go on, then… name the ginger kit.”
The ginger one – the only unnamed one yet – pummelled her mother’s stomach with fierce paws. In front of them, the dusk symbolizing the end of the day was the colour of copper, shining in the sky. And in that moment, Caesar knew what he was going to name his daughter.
“Copper,” Caesar murmured, shooting a gaze at Mercury. “Her fur is the colour of copper, and so is that sunset.”
Mercury gave Caesar a satisfied look, then she turned back to her four kits. “Sylvie, Goldie, Titan, and Copper – welcome to the world.”
Part One - Leaving
Nine moons before the Preface...
I don't even know why I have stayed this long anymore. It all started when my littermates and I were two moons old, when our mother told us about the wild cats - the cats of flame. I had admired them after that, but one sister - that one, with the silver-gray pelt - doesn't seem to agree with me. In fact, she seems to hate it. I wonder why...
Well, my mother, Mercury, tells us many stories about the wild cats. She claims that she had a father in there - Thornleaf, I think she said his name was - but she never met him before he died from a deadly bout of greencough. However, Mercury says that she's seen some other cats in their group, though - she tells us of a cat called Flightheart, who told her about her father's death.
Those names? I know they're weird. Mercury says it's normal for them. I don't know why, but I want to know - however, Mercury is no help with this.
Now, I watch as the early dawn light rises in the sky. As I sit, watching the golden glows touch the horizon, I look beside me. Mercury is sleeping next to Caesar - my father - and my three littermates sleep in a separate cluster nearby. I sleep with them, but not when that one - the one who bullies me - turns up. She'd be furious if she found out.
I narrow my gaze over there, and suppress a groan. The bully's awake. I can see her fluffy gray fur bush up as she stretches, her green eyes - like Mercury's - flashing like fire. She staggers backwards, and one of her back paws lands on my other sister's tail.
Her head shoots up, and her amber gaze is clouded as she stares up at my gray-furred sibling. "Did you have to do that?" she whines.
My gray-furred sibling's plumy tail sweeps along the ground as she replies: "Of course I have to. I'm the boss here - I can do what I like."
I've got news for you - you're not, I think in a bitter manner, as I look away. Setting my clear blue gaze on an oak tree, I run over silently, and latch on - climbing to one of the low branches, and sitting on it looking down. I shoot a gaze over to my parents - they're still sleeping. Obviously, they didn't hear my sister's bitter remarks.
Around here, my sister - the gray-furred one, obviously - is in charge. My other sister follows her around to no avail - she's her sidekick. My brother, on the other paw, doesn't seem to care about what we are doing. He doesn't go to support them - which pleases me - but he never goes to my side, either. He's hard to predict.
I'm against my two sisters - definitely. But if I had to pick one - well, definitely, that gray-furred one - Sylvie, her name is.
Sylvie coaxes my other sister - Goldie - to get up, and then she trots around the clearing, being her arrogant, snobbish little self. I don't make a sound. She's going to spot me soon enough, anyway.
And sure enough, she does. She turns to me as she sights me, her green eyes like slits. "Copper," she hissed, her voice full of anger. "The Clan cat lover." She spits out the words with so much anger, fury, and hate, that I want to claw her face off. "What are you doing today? You'd better come down now, or I'll give you something to think about."
I shivered from where I stood, looking down at Sylvie. I wasn't going to move - well, not yet, anyway...
"Now!" Sylvie hissed, and I flinched in fright. I don't even know why Sylvie likes to tease me - I think it might be about the Clan cat business, but who knows? I slither down the tree slowly, and as I reach the ground, I turned to face Sylvie. She did not look happy.
"What do you have to say about yourself now?" Sylvie jeered, her tail flicking. In response, I heard Goldie reply:
"Yeah, Clan cat lover! What have you done this time?"
I was frozen to the spot, and I didn't know what to say. Mercury and Caesar were still asleep, so that didn't help at all. My brother, Titan, was sitting off to one side, his blue eyes narrowed like they usually were - it was hard to tell what he was doing. I was alone.
"I- I..." I stammered, staring blankly at Sylvie. In reply, Sylvie started to jeer again. Her green eyes blazed like fire, and under her gaze I felt trapped. Then, I looked down at Sylvie, and noticed that her long, curved claws were unsheathed.
"You'd better tell me what you've been doing, or I'll claw you," Sylvie growled mockingly. She then turned to Goldie, expecting a reply, but the golden-furred she-cat said nothing.
After this, I was silent. I didn't know what to do, so I just spoke. "Umm... I was just climbing up a tree..." I started unsteadily.
"And you were trying to spy on us?" Sylvie inference loftily, interrupting me. "Well, Copper, I have news for you - that is a crime." The silver-gray she-cat then put her claws right up close to my face, and swiped.
I jumped back quickly. Thankfully, Sylvie had missed me. My sister growled in fury as her paw came back to her, and she saw nothing on it. Sheathing her claws, she turned to face me.
Before she could speak, however, I interrupted her this time. "I need to go and make dirt," I mewed awkwardly, a plan forming in my mind.
Sylvie's definitely not the smartest cat, I thought, after I had said those words. She'll be too dumb to realize that I'm going to do what I'm going to do.
"Go, then," Sylvie hissed at me, her green eyes, once again, holding fire in their insides. "But you'd better come back, or you'll won't forget what I'll do to you!"
The last few words I pondered in my mind as I started to move away, gathering up speed as I broke into a steady run. I made my way over to where my family made dirt - which wasn't far away at all, only a short run to get to it - and went into the thorny entrance. Sylvie would believe that I had actually gone there to make dirt, so she wouldn't go chasing after me for lying on that one. But, no - that wasn't my plan. I had other things on my mind.
I have to get away! I thought desperately, narrowing my eyes. Then, I saw a small gap between some ferns. That would be my escape route. There was only one way that I could escape from Sylvie, and all her tortures - and this was how I was going to find it.
I'm sorry, Mercury, Caesar, Titan, and Goldie, but I have to get away from Sylvie... That was the thought that I held in my mind as I slunk through the gap in between the ferns, and out into the unknown.
Now, to find FlameClan...
Part Two - Searching
Nine moons before the Preface...
On the way to FlameClan, I started to run again. I still feared Sylvie, and was afraid that she would come after me. However, once I had made some fair ground, I was pretty confident that she wouldn't go after me.
After this, I slowed down a little bit, but continued running. Now, I was in a forest, the trees flying past me as I ran. I looked to one side, admiring the trees, and then -
Smack! I crashed into the side of something furry, and immediately I stepped back, dazed, falling over in the process. I let my vision unblur, and I saw two cats - both gray with darker flecks, and dark gray eyes - although one was smaller than the other.
I knew these cats. This was Specks, and his son, Ash. I knew that Specks had a mate - Tawny, and two older kits - Burnet and Charlie - that were three moons older than me. They sometimes came over, and talked with Mercury and Caesar. Titan enjoyed hanging out with Burnet, while Charlie would often be with Sylvie and Goldie. Ash and I would both stare off to the side, not knowing what to do.
"Copper?" Specks' suspicious mew jolted me to attention. The flecked gray tom's dark eyes were narrowed. "Where are you going? Do your parents know where you are?"
At once, I knew that I had to think up a lie. If Specks knew the real reason that I was going away from my family, what would he do? "Mercury and Caesar know where I am - I always tell them," I mewed coolly. "I told my father that I was going to the FlameClan border. I want to have a look at those cats who... live there." It wasn't all a lie, I knew that, but I could tell that Specks was still suspicious.
However, before Specks could speak, Ash interrupted him. The gray tom was staring at his father, obviously confused. "Specks, what is -" he began, but his father cut him off.
I could see Specks' mouth hanging open in shock as he gasped: "Don't you know that's dangerous?I'm shocked that Mercury and Caesar let you go there! I'll -"
This time, I interrupted Specks. Annoyed, I mewed: "And that is none of your business." After this, I started to run again, leaving Specks and Ash behind me as I picked up a steady pace again.
At once, a thought struck me. Ash doesn't know about FlameClan? I was curious to know why the tom - three moons older than me - didn't know. Shoving that to the back of my mind, I burst out of the forest, my eyes stinging. At once, I paused to catch my breath.
I tasted the air. There was a scent that hung in the air, and I could easily tell what it was. It was no rogue scent - I could tell - and the scents were wreathing around an area, and were very strong.
Is this FlameClan? I thought, moving forward to the invisible line of scent. Sniffing it, I was pretty sure it was...
A voice sounded through the air, and I jumped. A small, gray tom with bright blue eyes - probably the same age as me - was staring at me through a bush. He came out, and stared at me, his eyes round.
"I said, what are you doing so close to FlameClan territory?" the tom said again, although I knew that he hadn't said that before. I snorted in reply, but didn't say any words.
Nosy cat, I thought, slightly irritated. Stop going in my business! I lashed my tail, and narrowed my eyes at the tom.
Much to my dislike, he didn't seem to notice that I was annoyed with him. "I'm Jaypaw," he mewed nonchalantly, gazing at me with a bright blue gaze. "And you are...?"
"And do you need to know?" I hissed, lashing my tail once more. "You're being nosy, Clan cat."
Jaypaw seemed unfazed by my defensive actions, and he flicked his tail lazily. "And what's the problem with that?" he asked. "It's not such a big deal, is it? Besides, if you don't step into my Clan's territory, I won't tell them anything about you. I snuck out of camp so I could be here - my mentor wanted me to do chores, but I wasn't bothered."
Fine, then! I thought, furious. "I'm Copper," I growled, as I lashed my striped tail. "Happy now?"
Jaypaw gazed at me once more, and he nodded. "I am satisfied," he mewed, as he scuffled his paws along the ground. "But why are you here, anyway? Only the bravest of cats dare to step in FlameClan's borders. You're not a Clan cat - why are you here?"
He's annoying! I thought to myself. This Jaypaw seemed so naïve, and not very interested in her own means. She didn't like him - at all.
But I have to admit I want to join the Clan to someone. That last bit was true, and that was what I confessed to Jaypaw. "I want to join FlameClan, that's why," I sighed, not looking into Jaypaw's eyes.
At once, Jaypaw seemed to forget that he was out of camp - out of his Clan's orders - and he bounced around. "Oh, yes! I get to take a cat to the camp! I get to take a rogue -"
I cut him off at that. "Um, excuse me, but I'm a loner, you twat," I mewed bitterly.
"Whatever, I don't really care," Jaypaw replied with a flourish. "Come on, I'll take you to our camp. I'm sure the Clan will take you in."
I cautiously stepped into FlameClan territory, my paws tingling as I stepped in. "Lead the way, if you're so sure where you're going," I mewed.
As Jaypaw led the way to the FlameClan camp, I finally felt more relaxed. Now, I could finally escape from my biggest fear - Sylvie.
Part Three - Training
Eight moons before the Preface...
It's now been a moon since I've joined FlameClan, and I haven't regretted a single part of it.
I was so happy when FlameClan accepted me. I didn't tell them the true reason for why I had come, but they still let me join them. I was apprenticed to a Clan warrior - ironically, none other than Flightheart herself - and was given a Clan name.
Will Sylvie actually find out I joined the Clan? I wondered, as I padded outside the apprentices' den, where I slept with the other Clan apprentices, including Jaypaw. No sooner than I had gotten out of the den, Flightheart approached me. The brown-and-ginger she-cat's fur was ruffled.
"There you are, Copperpaw," she mewed, when I came close. "We're practicing how to mark Clan borders today... we'll be going out with Duskpaw and his mentor, if you don't mind." Flightheart arched her back in a stretch, and I looked behind me to see Duskpaw - Jaypaw's brother - coming up to me, with his mentor, Splashsong - a blue-gray she-cat with one gray paw.
Duskpaw looked like he was bursting to complain about something. The wiry brown tom's tail was twitching as he whined, "But Splashsong... I want to fight!"
Splashsong ignored Duskpaw, and beckoned for Flightheart to lead the patrol. Flightheart, who by now had finished stretching, nodded, and took the lead of the patrol, leading us out of camp.
I was trailing at the back of the patrol, with Duskpaw by my side, as I followed the now-familiar route to the Clan border. I heard Flightheart mention that we were going to the rogue border to practice, and I sighed. That border still reminded me so much of Sylvie... but of course, the Clan didn't know that. I would just have to bear with it.
Finally, we got to the rogue border. A chilly breeze blew past, and I felt my dark ginger fur being lifted as the cold air brushed past me. It wasn't very welcome, if I had to admit, but I gritted my teeth and bore it.
FlameClan warriors have to get used to everything, Copperpaw! I thought to myself as my fur being fluffed up. Get used to it? As I thought to myself, I shook out my fur indignantly, hoping that no cat would notice that I was having a silent battle with myself.
Thankfully, no cat noticed, as Flightheart started pacing, giving out instructions to Duskpaw and I. "You both know how to mark the boundaries, correct?" the FlameClan warrior mewed. When Duskpaw and I both nodded in reply, she continued: "Good. Go mark the boundary, then, and Splashsong and I will study your techniques."
We both nodded, staying still for a moment. For a while all of us were staying still, wondering what to do, until Splashsong broke the silence.
"What are you doing?" Splashsong asked, giving Duskpaw a quizzical glare. She then turned to me, doing the same expression. "You're meant to be marking the border, remember???"
At that command, Duskpaw and I both shot to our paws, and started to mark the border. Duskpaw moved to a place a fair way away from where we had our discussion, while I settled for a place that was nearby, not wanting to move very far.
I started to mark the border, glaring up at Duskpaw every so often. He was looking very suspicious. The brown tom, while he was marking the border, kept on leaning forward, and narrowing his eyes every so often. I wondered why he was doing so, but I ignored it after a while, looking down and continuing to mark the border.
"That's great, Copperpaw." I heard Flightheart's mew from behind me, and I twitched one ear back at her. "You obviously listened to my last training session with me."
On the other hand, Splashsong didn't seem to have the same success with her apprentice. Every time Duskpaw leaned forward, Splashsong sighed. Finally, having dealt with all the patience she had, the blue-gray she-cat padded up to Duskpaw. "What are you doing?" she mewed loudly to Duskpaw, so that the tom clould hear.
At that moment, Duskpaw trotted ahead, and started to look at something. I sat down, with Flightheart doing the same thing. Meanwhile, Splashsong was still annoyed greatly with Duskpaw. "Can you hear me?" she yowled into the distance.
"You might want to come over here, you guys," Duskpaw replied, and I could see his skinny tail flicking in the distance. "I think I see..." His voice trailed off.
Flightheart gave an annoyed grunt, and I felt her tail whisk along my back, instructing me to stand up. "Let's go see what Duskpaw wants from us," she mewed to Splashsong, but loud enough so I could hear as well. "I don't know what he's doing..."
Splashsong gave a nod of agreement, and then the three of us started to pad towards Duskpaw, wondering why he had been acting suspicious during that training exercise. Was the reason he wanted us the reason why he was leaning forward all the time?
As we approached, I swore that I could see something as well. Another chilly breeze blustered past, and I shivered again. Why did Duskpaw want us, anyway?
As the three of us came near enough to see what was going on, I heard Duskpaw whisper: "I just couldn't leave him there... he was freezing to death..."
I looked down. A small white kit - probably only a few days old - was lying down at Duskpaw's paws, mewling pitifully. Beside me, I could see Flightheart's, and then Splashsong's gaze soften.
"We'd better take him back to the Clan..." Flightheart mewed unsteadily. "Splashsong, do you mind picking him up?" As Splashsong obeyed, taking the young kit away from Duskpaw, Flightheart gathered the patrol together, and we set off back to camp.
Once again, the two mentors were at the front of the patrol, and Duskpaw and I were at the back. Duskpaw was staring at Splashsong, who evidently still had the kit in her mouth. The wiry brown tom's fur was lifted in worry, yet his amber eyes were alight at the same time. He leaned closer to me, and mewed: "That was an unusual training session."
I nodded in reply. "I know... was that why you were acting suspicious during that exercise?" I just had to know the answer to that question - it had continued to nag at me, and I just knew that I had to let it out.
Duskpaw nodded, and then mewed loud enough so that Splashsong and Flightheart could hear: "I think that kit should be called Frozenkit. After all, he nearly froze to death, so why not he be named after that?"
I glared at Duskpaw, a little bit annoyed, and then looked back at Flightheart, who was looking at Splashsong. I saw Splashsong nod, and then Flightheart announce: "Yes... that's a good name, Duskpaw. He shall be Frozenkit."
I lowered my head at this, and Frozenkit's name started to swim in my mind. Another cat from outside the Clan... how many more will there be?
Part Four - Battling
Three moons before the Preface...
I crouch down, as I wait for the battle call. I am prepared - I know it's coming. And after this, we will be fighting for our lives.
Flightheart has told me that I'm due for my warrior name now, along with Jaypaw and Duskpaw. She says this is our final test, and if we are good enough, we will be warriors.
Except this time, we aren't practicing against one another. This time, it against our real enemy - DarkClan, those monsters of cats, who don't follow the warrior code, and where collars studded with teeth. I shudder as I think about it - I do not need haunting visions to coud my thinking.
I hear the battle call, and I leap forward, Flightheart beside me. I immediately come up against a sleek dark gray tabby she-cat, her amber eyes like pools of fire. She was angry about something - I could tell - but I didn't know what...
"Did you FlameClan scum take my sister?" The dark gray tabby cat leaps at Flightheart, and in response, I follow her. "Did you?" She bares her teeth at Flightheart, and starts to shred her side.
I find the DarkClan cat's comment rather unexpected, and I back away, nervous. What was this she-cat talking about? I don't remember FlameClan taking any prisoners in the time that I've been there so far...
"What do you mean, your sister?" Flightheart asks, as she tries to shove the dark gray cat off her, but fails. "FlameClan never takes prisoners!" She then kicks the dark gray cat, but as she's much larger than her, it doesn't work.
I feel like I can't do anything, but then I realize that there is something - try and save Flightheart. DarkClan had one less cat than us, and as all the rest of the cats were fighting one-on-one, I was the only cat free. Unsheathing my claws, I leap forward and land on the cat's back, unsteadying her, and letting Flightheart escape. I quickly jump away, before she falls on me, and crushes me. She then falls to the ground with a grunt, but she quickly gets back onto all four paws.
She then turns to me. "Nice try, young FlameClan cat," she hisses, and then she lunges at me, her claws unsheathed. She's going to get me, that's for sure. I'm going to die...
But then, a brown-and-ginger blur sweeps in front of me, and takes the blow. The cat then falls to the ground, and I know it's Flightheart. My mentor's taken the blow for me.
Flightheart's saved my life... I thought, as I turned to the sleek tabby. "No!" I yowled at her, lunging for her throat. She was the only cat on the patrol without a studded collar, so my job was a whole lot easier on my part. Letting my claws meet flesh, I sink back down to the ground, after making a large leap.
The dark gray tabby falls to the ground, retching feebly. "Never... mess with... Knurren..." she gasps. "And you all know... you took... Raraku..." Knurren then falls to the ground, unmoving, and I know that she is dead.
Immediately, I turn to Flightheart. I immediately can tell she's still alive, due to the faint rise and fall of her chest. "Flightheart!" I mew painfully, as I come to her. "You'll be alright - you're not going to die..."
Flightheart ignores me. The brown-and-ginger she-cat stares at me with cloudy blue eyes. "You're Mercury's daughter," she whispers quietly. "I can see her in you... and Thornleaf, too. If they'd saw you.... they'd be so... proud." Flightheart broke off, and slumped over. Suddenly, I knew that this was getting serious.
"Flightheart!" I mew again. "Don't go!"
But this time, there is no response. Flightheart gives one long look, and then her body collapses, and splays against the ground. Her eyes have closed, and her breathing has stopped, and I know that she had died as well.
"No!" I yowl loudly, and I want to retreat - I want to grieve. "Flightheart - no!" But only the battle cries that still occur around me reply, and I shakily sink down, back to Flightheart's body. I rest my head on Flightheart's shoulder, and I pray to StarClan that she will come back, although I know she never will.
Oh, Flightheart... Why did you have to die?
Part Five - Receiving
Three moons before the Preface...
I was still shaking from the wounds I had received in that battle with DarkClan. Although they had been treated long ago, they still throbbed as much as they had ever done. I strained to lick one of my back legs feebly, and then I looked up again.
Three sunrises had passed since the battle. The vigil for Flightheart had been long and cold, and I had insisted that I should stay up for it. Now that it was over, I had nothing to do. Even rest couldn't satisfy me now.
I felt a tail whisk along my flank. Turning to see Jaypaw, I didn't feel better at all. "Look," he whispered. "Our time has come."
Blinking, I looked up. Of course - I'd completely forgot! Looking up even higher, I stared into my leader's eyes, trying not to feel pity for myself. I'd avenged Flightheart's death, after all. She hadn't died in vain.
"Today, we come to name three new warriors," our leader, Flamestar, announced, flicking her white-tipped tail from side to side. "Jaypaw, Duskpaw, and Copperpaw." Her gaze lingered on me for longer than it did for the two brothers, and it made me feel nervous. Was something bad going to happen to me?
I doubt it. I quickly shrugged off that thought - it was best not to linger on the bad things, but on the good, especially in a time like this. Licking my shoulder to smooth a small patch of tufted fur, I sat up straighter, and twitched my tail ever so slightly. Beside me, I felt Jaypaw's fur lift in delight, and Duskpaw's amber eyes were bright, as he watched from Jaypaw's other side.
"Come forward." The ceremony was continuing, and Flamestar flicked her tail again to beckon us forward, to stand at the foot of the Lava Rock. There, my warrior name would be given - but what it would be - I wasn't sure,
With Jaypaw and Duskpaw, we stepped forward in unison. One amber gaze, and two blue, stared yup at our leader as she spoke the ritual words.
I'm finally going to be a warrior. That was the thought that rushed through my head, especially now that I was at the foot of the Lava Rock. Finally, I'll get my warrior name - I'll be a FlameClan warrior!
I felt a pang of sadness as I remembered Flightheart - and then Thornleaf, even though he died before I was born - after that. I just willed for them to be watching form StarClan - that would be the only thing that they could do for me now.
I quickly snapped back to the ceremony, which Flamestar had started to perform: "I, Flamestar, leader of FlameClan, call down upon my warrior ancestors to look down on these three apprentices. They have learnt the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as warriors in their turn. Jaypaw, Duskpaw, and Copperpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code, and to defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
I hesitated to say the ritual words. Meanwhile, Jaypaw was the first off the mark when it came to the ceremony. "I do," the gray tom replied, his gray tail twitching.
"I do." Duskpaw echoed his brother's words, his voice softer. I saw him take a deep breath in.
I took my gaze away from Duskpaw, and I snapped it back in Flamestar's direction. The ginger leader's tail was flicking once more, but this time it was of impatience. I took a deep breath in, feeling forced. For some reason, I didn't feel ready to become a warrior... all my eagerness from before had drained away. However, I said the ritual words, regardless of what I was thinking:
Approvingly, Flamestar swept her tail at the three of us, telling us to come forward even further. "Then by the power of StarClan, I give your warrior names." Her gaze fixed on Jaypaw first. "Jaypaw, from this moment you will be known as Jaywhisker. StarClan honors your loyalty and courage, and we welcome you as a warrior of FlameClan."
The newly-named Jaywhisker nodded at his leader, and then stepped back. I watched Flamestar's gaze now settle on Duskpaw, and then she said the words again:
"Duskpaw, from this moment you shall be known as Dusksong. StarClan honors your energy and spirit, and we welcome you as a warrior of FlameClan."
Dusksong, too, stepped back, and then I was alone. I knew that I was next, and as Flamestar's gaze set on me, I felt myself shiver. This was it. I saw Flamestar hesitate before she spoke, and then, she said it.
"Copperpaw." Flamestar paused after she said my name, and she stared at me with such an intense glare that I nearly flinched and stepped back in fright. "From this moment on, you shall be known as Copperdusk. StarClan honors your fighting skill and your intelligence, and we welcome you as a warrior of FlameClan."
I stepped back, joining Jaywhisker and Dusksong in our line. Only then, did the Clan start to serenade us with our new names:
"Jaywhisker! Dusksong! Copperdusk!"
My new name rang in my ears. Copperdusk. Meanwhile, Flamestar dismissed the meeting, and the Clan scattered.
Jaywhisker and Dusksong moved off together, to the back of the crowd - they obviously wanted a bit of peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of the camp - which I immediately knew that it wouldn't work, due to a few she-cats heading in the young toms' direction. Meanwhile, a few cats came up to me.
"Congratulations," mewed a smoke black tabby tom, which I recognized as Hiddenshade. His green eyes were staring at me with acknowledgement, and I accepted his words with a grateful nod. Hiddenshade then nodded back at me, and he turned to move to the back of the crowd.
Another tom, Wrenflight - who had been Wrenpaw, a cat that was near the end of his apprenticeship when I joined FlameClan - nodded too before he disappeared.
A few more cats congratulated me, and then the Clan gradually dispersed into its normal activities. Above, I saw the sky turning to dusk, and I knew that my vigil would start as soon as it became truly dark.
Now I am free.
In the present...
Now, do you have an idea of who I am? I'm sure you know who I am now... don't you?
Yes, that's right. I'm not surprised that your guess is correct.
Um, yes, I'd appreciate that you wouldn't tell him about that - he still doesn't know. I jus don't think he'd be able to cope... I see that light shining in your eyes - do you admire him, or something?
And the secret? That is mine, and mine alone. Only I will hold this secret. Maybe one day, the Clan will know - but for now, it's only mine.
Part Six - Fearing
Four moons after the Preface...
So much terror has come across my Clan recently.
It's good to be home, after what we've had to face. Fleeing to the Tribe, we had some safety there. It's good to see the whole Clan united again, after what our Clan suffered. However, Flamestar died, and her death still lingers over FlameClan.
Anyway, at the moment, I snap my attention back to the camp. I see a black warrior - Thunderheart, I thought his name was - lashing out at a cat that I didn't recognize. He was a large, dark brown tom - much bigger than Thunderheart - and I could hear him spitting insults at the black tom.
I have to defend my Clanmate! Hissing, I start to sprint after the intruder.
When I got close, I could tell instantly that he saw me. His dark eyes darkened even further, and he yowled at me: "Stay away! This kit deserved to die! He deserved it a long time ago!"
Kit? I was unimpressed with this rogue, and I knew that Thunderheart was a loyal warrior to FlameClan, and didn't deserve that sort of remark heading across his way. In my fury, I leapt at the large cat, thrusting myself forward. Unsheathing my claws as I soared through the air, I landed on the tom's back.
Before I could launch a proper attack, however, I felt myself falling. I saw a large paw going in my direction, and then I fell to the ground with a thud.
My body started to ache all over, and I could see a blotch of scarlet on the ground, where his blow had connected to my flesh. I was ready to just leave - but I stood there, and watched helplessly as the dark tom started to curse at Thunderheart.
And then, I heard a cat's voice: "No!" - and then I saw a silver blur leap out at the rogue.
I watched as the cat landed on the dark rogue - but he too got knocked off. He got barreled to the ground in the opposite direction from me, but he had more strength than I did. He managed to stagger himself to his paws, and he started defiantly at the rogue.
"Why are you attacking him?" the tom hissed, flicking his skinny tail at Thunderheart. His blue eyes were full of fire, and as he moved his tail away from the black tom, he added: "You're injuring cats - you fought off my sister!"
I took a bated breath in. Suddenly, I recognized the tom. That cat who had always looked on from the sides, and done nothing to help... the one who never really seemed to care...
I was too busy staring in shock, that I couldn't make out the words he was saying. I heard him say stuff about Titan, and then about me. Then I saw him turn to Thunderheart, and the two toms shouted at each other for a while before the bigger cat leapt at the smaller one again.
For a while, I stayed on the ground, watching Thunderheart and the rogue fighting. Hiddenshade, the new Clan deputy, had also interfered for a while, but then he moved off to shoulder the rest of the Clan into the dens for their safety.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Thunderheart finally killed the rogue. As the black tom started to yowl his victory to the sky, I rolled over, seeing my brother licking the scratches that he had obtained. "...Titan?"
A few moments passed, and then Titan turned his gaze towards me. His blue eyes were unsure as he gazed at me. "Copper?" he meowed. "Is that you?"
The mention of my old name reminded me of the first six, terrifying moons of my life, and I shuddered. I didn't need to think of Sylvie - especially not now! Irritated, I snapped at my brother: "It's Copperdusk now."
Titan stepped back, and muttered something that I couldn't hear. Even though it was in this moment of fear, I couldn't help but feel happy that I had reunited with my brother.
Some of my family has returned to me...
A few days after the battle, I sat down at the border between FlameClan and the cats who had no group to call their home. I sighed, and swiveled one paw in the dust on the ground. The battle was still fresh in my mind.
After a while, Hiddenshade had seen Titan in the camp, and had come to investigate. Eventually, he left, and I moved off as well. But by the time I had done with everything, Titan had gone. I found out that he'd sneaked out through an entrance - a secret one, that seemed that it wasn't used very often. As soon as I'd reunited with my family - they had gone.
If I hadn't... I continued to swivel my paw on the ground, still looking down. For once, I felt guilty that I had left my family to join FlameClan. Life would've been different - Flightheart would've never died in the way she did, Dusksong would've never found Frozenkit - now Frozenstream, the newest Clan warrior.
A rustling in the bushes alerted me, and I looked up suddenly. At once, I felt my blood run cold, and my body run through with fear. No...
There was a large, muscular she-cat staring at me, her green eyes looking at me with a cold fire. Her long claws were unsheathed, and the collar around her neck was studded with dog's teeth - and her pelt was a silver-gray, a very familiar shade of silver-gray...
It was Sylvie.
I had only fear left in me - no courage, only fear. "Sy-Sylvie?" I stammered, looking up at my sister, trying not to show the fear in my eyes. I knew she was dangerous - especially from all those memories of her I had suffered all those moons ago...
Immediately, I saw Sylvie step forward, so that she was face-to-face with me. I felt my blood run even colder - it felt uncomfortable, for her to be so close to me. "Yes..." my sister hissed, staring into my eyes. "Copper, this is my way of revenge to you, and you're not going to win this battle..." Sylvie hunkered down into a lopsided battle crouch, and I scuttled backwards. I knew I could do better than that - but I didn't want to attack her...
No... I stared at Sylvie. Each second felt like a day going past. Don't attack me - no! I was fearing for my life...
"No, don't do this. Stop!"
A cat called out from the bushes, and I felt myself sigh in relief. I relaxed even more as I recognized the cat who had spoken - it was Titan. The silver tom was staring at Sylvie, and then he turned to stare at me. "I can't let you do this..." my brother continued. "You're my family, and soon I will have more. I have a mate, and she is expecting my kits. You're family, you... shouldn't be fighting."
Titan has a mate? I never knew about this, considering that he was in my Clan's camp a few days ago. I turned my gaze to Sylvie, who was staring at Titan furiously.
"I don't care!" Sylvie hissed at my brother, and she turned to me. Her voice was darker as she spoke to me. "DarkClan will get back to you," she growled, and then Sylvie turned her back on Titan and I, and left.
For a moment, I stared in shock. Sylvie... DarkClan... My mouth dropped open - those few moments had turned into an eternity. Sylvie had really been driven by anger - she'd turned to the evil side.
I turned to Titan, who whispered to me: "I'd better go back... sorry, Copperdusk." The silver tom turned his back on me, and left as well - and now, I was alone.
Shakily, I rose to my paws, heading back to camp. At the moment, I was truly fearful - fearful for my Clan, fearful for my friends - and most importantly, fearful for my life.
This can't be...
Part Seven - Defeating
Six moons after the Preface...
Staring away into the distance, I brought one paw over my ear, and continued to stare. Life in FlameClan had been well opposite of normal over the past two moons.
The leader and his mate had disappeared, and in the meantime, Hiddenshade had proceeded to leading the Clan. The black smoke tabby hadn't given up on the Clan leader yet, however, so he had refused to give up on that belief.
Now, I was due to go out on yet another search patrol. As the last member of the patrol gathered at the camp entrance, I looked at Hiddenshade, and waited for a signal to lead the patrol out. As Hiddenshade gave me the signal, I rose to my paws, and tasted the air, expecting for nothing but the normal to come up...
... But this time, there wasn't. I felt my dark ginger fur lift in fear as I tasted a scent that chilled into every FlameClan cat's hearts.
DarkClan. I knew that most cats here probably knew what DarkClan was, and their ruthless natures - excluding the newest arrivals, which were Frozenstream's four kits with his rather young mate, Streampaw - Icekit, Swiftkit, Bluekit, and Silverkit. There was a fifth, but the kit had been stillborn - and the Clan had grieved.
In preparation, I felt my claws unsheathe, and I dropped into a crouch, my tail flicking. Behind me, I heard a few cats being ordered to guard the nursery, to keep Streampaw's kits safe. And just as I heard them, the DarkClan cats came into the camp... all two of them.
The two cats were both she-cats. One was one that I didn't recognize, and the other struck another bolt of fear in my heart. It was Sylvie...
... And she was moving right in my direction.
"You!" Sylvie spat at me. "You will pay!" She leapt up at me. I knew immediately that when she had said 'you will pay', it meant me going to FlameClan. In response, I bunched my hind legs, and leapt forwards, willing to meet Sylvie in mid-air.
My sister saw me lift up into the air. Time seemed to slow down as Sylvie swiped one paw, with unsheathed claws protruding on its end, at me - but to my relief, she came up short. I felt myself falling to the ground after that attack, and I stretched out my claws, reaching towards to the ground until it came back under my paws - but this wasn't ground that I was standing on, as I realized when I looked down. I'd landed on Sylvie.
Sylvie was writing under my grip, her emerald green gaze fierce as she stared at me. Taking her moment of weakness, I spat at her: "You won't win, when I have the rest of FlameClan at my side. You have no-one!"
Below my paws, Sylvie made another attempt to get out of my grip, but I kept her pinned down. Sylvie replied: "Actually, I do have a cat," she purred.
I turned towards the nursery, where I saw the second cat - who was battling Thunderheart - shove the black tom right into the nursery's entrance. I heard some of Streampaw's kits mewl in fright over all the noise of the camp, and then I felt the weight under my paws vanish. Turning, I saw Sylvie glaring defiantly at me. Then, I realized my mistake.
I got distracted! She escaped! I looked down at my paws, and then back at Sylvie. The silver-gray she-cat was still staring at me, and I knew that next time, I wasn't going to get distracted. "The fight is on now, Sylvie," I hissed, glaring into my sister's eyes. I didn't want to be the first to attack...
Prepared, I waited for Sylvie's attack. Eventually, she swiped another paw at me, but I leapt back - which caused her to miss. As her paw returned to the ground, I lunged forward, springing towards her, reaching for her ear. Satisfaction pulsed through me as I felt my claws tear her ear, until part of it had almost fallen off. The scratch that I had inflicted on Sylvie started to bleed, as if on cue.
At once, Sylvie retreated back, rubbing her torn ear. At once, I knew she was distracted, and I bowled her over as I charged towards her. Sylvie fell to the ground, her paws flailing, and I took yet another moment of weakness to me. I pinned Sylvie down one more, more determined than before to keep her there.
"Nice try, sister,, I snarled at Sylvie, staring into her eyes fiercely, my tail flicking. You won't win... your saying was a lie...
"I will get back to you!" Sylvie hissed back at me, flailing under my grip, and failing to get back to her paws. "You will pay, Copper, you never should've turned to those Clan cats in the first place!"
She doesn't know, does she? I thought, as I stared at Sylvie defiantly. For once, I felt brave, and in this moment I knew that I could truly defeat my biggest fear, once and for all. "And whose fault was that?" I asked her sister, referring to FlameClan. "It was yours." It was the truth when I spoke that - where would I have gone if Sylvie hadn't terrorized me? "By the way, my name is Copperdusk, not Copper."
I then proceeded to rake a paw down Sylvie's gray flank, and then another, causing Sylvie to grit her teeth once more. At each successful paw swipe I made, the more satisfaction I received, and the more I felt better about all this. What goes around, does come around, Sylvie, I told her silently, as I stared into her eyes again.
And this time, she gasped, and I knew that this time, she was the one on the receiving end. She was the one that was getting shunned - and she deserved it, for all she had done. "Goodbye, Sylvie," I hissed, as I hardened my grip on my sister. "I'll never have to suffer your pain again." With that, I lifted my other paw, and swiped it down her other flank, as quick as I could, and then I returned to my former stance.
For a while, below my paws, I saw Sylvie gasp fro breath. Then finally, after what seemed like a long time, her head looked back, and the emerald fire died in her eyes as they glazed over. Sylvie was dead - finally dead.
I got off Sylvie's unmoving body. Kicking it to the side, I said my thoughts aloud - aloud to myself:
"I don't need to see her anymore." Then, being quieter this time, I added: "My pain is over." And in that moment, I knew that all this pain was now just history. Now, I could finally leave this shadow behind, and move on with the rest of my life.
Six moons after the Preface...
A tortoiseshell she-cat groomed her three newborn kits at her belly. Every time she set her gaze on one of her kits, her heart seemed to swell with love. One was gray with a golden-brown tail and paws, the second was a tortoiseshell like her, and the third kit was dark ginger, with rippling tabby stripes.
The cat's mate, a silver tom, was beside her. He purred in delight as he saw his kits. "Now, what about the kits' names?" he purred, staring at his mate with love in his eyes.
The tortoiseshell cat stared at her mate. "I have been thinking about that," she mwed softly, laying her tail on the tortoiseshell kit that looked just like her. "Our little she-cat... her name will be Leaf. Her pelt looks like the forest floor, don't you think?"
The silver cat nodded. "She does, Burnet," he mewed. "It also represents my ancestry. Thornleaf..." The silver cat was reminded of his mother's father, the FlameClan warrior. His sister had followed in his pawsteps, and she knew she was there now. Nothing could make her go back to her old life.
"Thornleaf." Burnet spoke the deceased cat's name softly. Her tail then moved towards the gray kit. "What about Thorny for him? He looks a bit like thorns, and for this Thornleaf as well..."
The silver cat nodded in agreement, and then asked: "Do you want me to name the third?"
In reply, Burnet nodded. "That would be much appreciated, Titan," she breathed.
Titan then surveyed the final kit - the dark ginger one. As dusk blazed along the sky, and as he thought of his sister, he knew exactly what to call him.
"His name will be Dusk," Titan mewed. "After my sister. Remember her, when she left? As she left, the copper dusked on us... but this kit is our new dawn."
Burnet stared for a while, and then she nodded. "Thorny, Leaf, and Dusk," she echoed.
For a while, the two adult cats were silent, as they watched the newborn kits, Then Titan opened his mouth, and spoke:
"They're beautiful, Burnet... Just beautiful."
Wow... just wow.
This is one of my longest projects (in terms of content), and in the approximately two months it took me to write the whole thing, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I give credit to the following users, whose characters have appeared in this fanfiction: Rainpelt (Jaywhisker and Dusksong), Flame (Flamestar), Thunder (Thunderheart, as well as the two unnamed rogues that appear in parts Six and Seven), Stormver (Wrenflight, Icekit, Streampaw, and Swiftkit) and one user that is not on this wiki(Hiddenshade). I really appreciate that these characters appeared in this fanfic. <3
Constructive criticism for this story is always appreciated. <3
Until next time,