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This page contains a fan fiction written by Forestpaw13.
This page contains the opinions of the original author(s), and is not patrolled for factual accuracy.
Remember that this story is non-canon. It may contain false characters, plots, or locations.
Responses, comments & other feedback should be made on the comments section below.



Standards Series
Preceded by:
Standards
Healing Succeded by:
Breaking the Rules

Prologue

"Okay, okay, be quiet," one cat mewed loudly.
Jaws snapped shut, and cats crouched, waiting.
"We all know Rushclaw," the cat meowed. "You know, the cat that went for Rebirth."
"He had a cat with him, Fang," one cat piped up.
Fang nodded at him. "We are all aware of that. But we only care about Rushclaw."
Eyes darkened around the circle.
"Oh, get over it," Fang snapped. His tail lashed. "Rushclaw is important because now, he has powers. Can you believe it?"
"What kind of powers?" another cat asked, his eyes brightening with interest.
"The kind you get when you're blind," Fang mewed shortly. He added, "This new form of Rushclaw can see through his paws."
"Isn't that cat- what's her name, Yellowfang?- helping him?" a fourth cat asked.
"It's the only way he can see," Fang responded quietly.


"Get him out!" Reedstar commanded Brackenheart. "C'mon, we don't have all the time StarClan granted us!"
Brackenheart raced into the camp. Almost instantly, Reedstar heard a yowl of surprise and hurt.
"Oh, StarClan help him," Reedstar murmured.
Ravenheart's eyes were wide with fear. He was muttering something to himself.
Reedstar had to get his Clan under control before they controlled themselves. "I want you all to go to the abandoned Twoleg nest," he called to them. He searched the cats and then added, "Thorntail will lead you. Ravenheart, stay here."
Ravenheart stepped forward, still muttering, as Thorntail led the Clan away.
Brackenheart's tail was now visible. He was pulling something- slowly.
Reedstar rushed forward, heart pounding, to see what was wrong.
"Stand back," Brackenheart told him. "I want to get Freepaw far away from the camp."
Reedstar took a respectful step backwards and sat down, eyes locked on what Brackenheart had just heaved out of the tunnel.
It was a charred Freepaw.
"No," Reedstar moaned.
Brackenheart wiped ashes off of his son with his tail. Then he called, "Ravenheart, is he alive?"
Ravenheart took hesitant steps forward, then his eyes locked on something Reedstar couldn't see.
"Hurry, you can't stare," Brackenheart hissed. "This is my son we're dealing with here."
Ravenheart blinked and looked down. "He's breathing," he mewed shortly. "All of my honey burned up, or I would give him something to soothe his throat."
"Don't wake him up," Reedstar told him. "Can we make something to pull him to the abandoned Twoleg nest?"
Ravenheart grunted a reply and he rolled Freepaw over. "Just as I suspected. He's bleeding."
Brackenheart ran off and called over his shoulder, "I'll find cobwebs!"
"We need a poultice to clean him up," Ravenheart murmured.
Reedstar sat. This is going to take a while, he thought. Please, fire, burn out.

Chapter 1

Freepaw sat up and opened his jaws in a wide yawn. Instantly, he began to cough.
When he stopped, with tears welling in his eyes from the stress, he saw Ravenheart sitting nearby.
For the first time, he realized that this wasn't the medicine den. "Where am I?" he asked sleepily.
"We're in the abandoned Twoleg nest," Ravenheart replied slowly. "You've been sleeping for a quarter-moon. I was about to declare you dead."
Freepaw's eyes stretched wide. "Well, I'm glad you-" He began to cough again.
Ravenheart crept to his side and rubbed his tail on Freepaw's back soothingly.
Tears were falling down Freepaw's face by the time he was finished.
"Eat this," Ravenheart instructed, pushing an herb to Freepaw.
"'Kay," he muttered, and he bent down and ate it.
Ravenheart pushed a leaf to him as Freepaw began to vomit a black, sticky substance.
"Thank StarClan for yarrow," Ravenheart purred.
Freepaw just glared at him, laid down, and fell asleep.


"I'm sorry," Yellowfang pleaded.
"It's not your fault," Freepaw soothed her. "I don't expect you to watch over me all the time."
"You could have been killed," Yellowfang hissed. "Like me."
Freepaw sat down with a thump on the smooth, soft dust of StarClan. "Wha...?"
"I died in a fire," Yellowfang explained, her voice hard. "In front of the next leader of ThunderClan."
Freepaw cocked his head.
"I think it's about time you heard about the kittypet leader, Firestar," Yellowfang mewed thoughtfully. "Settle down."
Freepaw obeyed.
"I met the leader as an apprentice, called Firepaw. I had left ShadowClan for reasons- ones that aren't important here- and I went onto ThunderClan's territory." She paused, then added, "We lived in the forest then."
Freepaw perked his ears as Yellowfang spoke. Every word spoken by this cat was knowledgeable.
"I met Firestar while he was hunting, and he overcame me in a fight. I was weak, and I had a bad leg, so I was sure he would have won anyway."
"Weren't you a medicine cat?" Freepaw inquired, tipping his head.
Yellowfang nodded. "I was trained as a warrior first. Anyway, when Firestar realized how weak I was, he caught me a rabbit. Unfortunately, he was caught by his Clan and the current leader, Bluestar.
"I was brought back to the camp, and Firestar's punishment was to care for me. He brought me food every day. When the medicine cat, Spottedleaf, died, I took over as the medicine cat.
"When Firestar became a warrior- called Fireheart- he got an apprentice, called Cinderpaw. Her leg was crushed by a Twoleg monster-"
"A Twoleg monster?" Freepaw interrupted.
Yellowfang shrugged and continued, "She became my apprentice, because she was crippled for life. She eventually became Cinderpelt.
"I watched as Tigerstar- Bluestar's deputy- tried to take over ThunderClan. I watched as he was banished. I watched as he killed innocent cats as a rogue. I watched as Bluestar became insane, hating StarClan and not trusting her Clan mates. She made Firestar deputy, but nobody knew if she did it on purpose or not.
"And then the fire came. It swept through the camp. Firestar saved every cat except for two elders. I told him that I would go back and save them."
A shadow fell over Freepaw's heart, and he tapped into Yellowfang's memories.
She was going into the medicine den to get some honey when a flame flared and slapped her in the face. She fell. Memories swirled through her about her dead son, and Firestar appeared- known as Fireheart then, Freepaw remembered.
"I killed my own son," Yellowfang had croaked to her young friend.
Firestar had watched her die.
Freepaw gasped as his vision snapped back to Yellowfang, who was finishing the story. "I gave him one of his nine lives, along with the gift of compassion."
Freepaw wondered what it would be like to be the leader of ThunderClan, like Firestar, so many moons ago.
"Firestar was so brave in the Great Journey. He led his Clan through so much..." Yellowfang's voice cracked a bit as she finished. "He was just as brave as you are."
She let those words settle as she faded, along with his dream.

Chapter 2

Freepaw was bored.
No cat wanted to talk to him, no cat would even listen to him. Ravenheart was the only exception.
"Can I stand up?" Freepaw asked Ravenheart.
Ravenheart seemed to sense the desperation in Freepaw's voice, because he nodded. "Not for long."
Freepaw twisted so his feet were underneath him and stood, shaking.
He regained his balance quickly and sighed in relief. "I can move around, finally," he muttered to himself.
"Go out to the rest of the nest," Ravenheart encouraged. "Not up the blocks, though," he added quickly.
Freepaw hauled himself away from his nest and went to stand in the center of the nest.
The cats roaming stopped short. Thornclaw looked up from a squirrel he was eating, Smokepaw sneered from a corner.
No cat moved towards him.
Freepaw felt anger surge through him. Yellowfang's voice echoed through his head. "Don't attack every cat. Speak up."
"Where's Reedstar?" Freepaw asked loudly.
Thorntail's reluctance hit Freepaw like the flames had when he replied, "Out hunting, I think."
"That does it!" Freepaw snapped. Raising his voice, he added, "ThunderClan, I'm not any different. If anything, you should be honoring me! I sacrificed my life for the Clan! You should be happy it wasn't you!"
"The thing is," Smokepaw piped up smoothly, "you're not really valuable to the Clan. You're blind."
Thorntail hissed at him. "He isn't blind."
Freepaw dug his claws into a crack into the wood to keep from clawing Smokepaw. "I am valuable! Smokepaw, I beat you in that fight before the fire!"
"Fight?" Smokepaw asked, tipping his head. "What fight?"
Thorntail hissed at him again. "Don't play stupid," he told Smokepaw.
Satisfaction welled up inside Freepaw.
"Freepaw!" Ravenheart called. "Come back and lay down. You've had enough for one day."
Freepaw sighed in disappointment and obeyed.


Freepaw woke up from a nap and instantly felt bored.
He also sensed Thorntail sitting nearby, staring.
"What?" he murmured.
"I'm proud of you," Thorntail told Freepaw. "You stood up for yourself."
"Smokepaw didn't help much," Freepaw muttered.
Thorntail shrugged. "Reedstar and his mentor can take care of him."
Freepaw lowered his head to his paws. "I just wish I was normal."
Thorntail displayed waves of pity.
"Don't pity me," Freepaw protested. "It's standard for me to think that. I just never say it out loud."
Memories radiated from Thorntail and Freepaw chose one.
He watched as Thorntail crept closer to a mouse.
Reedstar leaped out of a bush. "Thornpaw!"
Thorntail straightened up. "Yes, Reedfur?"
"Dapplepaw wants you."
Freepaw felt a wave of worry settle over the young apprentice.
"Is it time?" Thorntail croaked.
Reedstar lowered his head. "I think so."
Thorntail raced back to the camp , jumping over a log, barely hesitating when he had to plunge through bramble.
He skidded into the camp and looked around. There were strange cats walking around.
Thorntail chose a cat and yowled, "Volestar! Where's Dapplepaw?"
Volestar directed a glance towards the medicine den.
Thorntail raced there and stopped in front of a sick-looking cat.
She's blind, Thorntail thought. Let her know you're here.
"Dapplepaw?" Thorntail probed. "It's me, Thornpaw. I'm here, I'm here."
Dapplepaw raised her head. "I'm glad. I just wanted to say goodbye."
Grief shot through Thorntail and Freepaw held back a flinch.
"Goodbye, Thornpaw," Dapplepaw whispered, and her eyes grew cloudy.
A younger Ravenheart appeared in the entrance of the medicine den.
"She's dead, Ravenpaw," Thorntail croaked.
"Brackenheart will be disappointed," Ravenheart replied.
Her mentor, Thorntail remembered with a pang.
Freepaw couldn't take any more of the sadness.
"I just thought of something," Thorntail said suddenly to Freepaw.
Freepaw directed his face up towards his mentor, trying to keep confusion and grief out of his eyes. "What?"
"I remembered what you said. Back there, in the Twoleg nest."
"We're still here."
"Oh." Thorntail flinched.
"It's okay," Freepaw soothed. "Go on."
"I remembered something that my mentor, Reedstar, told me."
Freepaw listened.
"If you can stand up for your beliefs, then you are a true warrior." A pause. "In short, a true warrior can stand up."
Freepaw let the last six words echo in his mind. A true warrior can stand up...
"A true warrior can stand up," Thorntail echoed.

Chapter 3

When Ravenheart allowed Freepaw to continue with his apprentice duties, the camp, according to Mousepaw, was nowhere close to being close to rebuilt. Freepaw himself was getting tired of the old Twoleg nest, so he did everything in his power to help.
There were ashes to be cleared away, dens to be rebuilt, a wall to be repaired, and to Freepaw, the list went on and on.
The devastation of the camp was more for him, because he could feel it and smell it much better than his Clanmates.
And Yellowfang helped occasionally.
One day, when Freepaw was gathering sticks and twigs to be used for the new warriors den, he heard a rustle in the bracken behind him. He sensed a cat much bigger and stronger than him, and he smelled faintly of ShadowClan.
Freepaw dropped the sticks and dropped into a hunting crouch, where he could leap at any heartbeat. "Yellowfang," he hissed. Louder, he called, "Who are you? Come out or feel my wrath!"
The voice echoed back, "We're both apprentices, Freepaw. It's only me."
Freepaw's vision opened as Jaggedpaw pushed his way through a bracken bush.
Freepaw's jaw dropped and he hissed, "What are you doing here?"
"I've chosen to leave ShadowClan," Jaggedpaw declared.
Freepaw narrowed his eyes, feeling distrust for the first time since he'd met this ShadowClan cat. "Why?"
Jaggedpaw lowered his head. "I don't have any connections there. My mentor is refusing to mentor me- isn't that their job?- and I've been called a weakness many different times." Sadness dispatched from him in huge waves that nearly overwhelmed Freepaw.
"It's okay," Freepaw mumbled. "Maybe Reedstar will let you join ThunderClan. I'll make sure you're respected." Even as he spoke the words, he remembered when Smokepaw had declared him a minority.
Jaggedpaw'a eyes brightened, although the sadness was still there.
"I'll take you to Reedstar," Freepaw told him. "I can get the sticks later."
He led Jaggedpaw towards the demolished camp and poked his head through the entrance. Reedstar wasn't there, which meant he was between destinations or at the Twoleg house now.
"C'mon," Freepaw muttered to Jaggedpaw, pulling his head out. "I'll take you to our temporary camp."
Confusion entered Jaggedpaw's eyes, but he didn't speak a word as Freepaw led him through the territory once more and stopped outside the Twoleg nest.
"Here? Your temporary camp is here?" Jaggedpaw asked dubiously.
"Twolegs haven't been here for seasons," Freepaw informed him.
Jaggedpaw nodded uncertainly, and Freepaw led him into the nest.
Instantly, the ThunderClan cats stopped talking loudly and confidently, and began whispering. Freepaw picked up "Jaggedpaw... can't trust... stupid..."
Freepaw licked his chest fur to keep from exploding in anger and looked around for Reedstar.
"He isn't here," Thorntail yowled, guessing who Freepaw was looking for. Padding over, he added, "Would you like to tell me why you allowed him here, into our camp?"
Freepaw didn't say a word about his friend, but asked, "Where is Reedstar?"
Thorntail sighed in defeat. "I have no idea."
Loud voices began to protest the former ShadowClan apprentice. "Why'd you bring him here?" "He's ShadowClan!" "He'd probably do this for a couple of mouse tails."
"No I wouldn't!" Jaggedpaw protested hotly.
Smokepaw's voice rose over the other cats. "Well, what do you know? A blind cat brings a stupid, weakened ShadowClan apprentice into our camp. Are they plotting? Or are they just so pitiful that they can't be apart?"
That brought hisses. Many cats had seen Freepaw take down Smokepaw after the Gathering, and they had obviously not forgotten.
I'm not blind, Freepaw protested in his head. But he knew that if he said so out loud, Smokepaw would insult him more.
"Freepaw's a strong cat," a cat named Brambletail told Smokepaw sternly.
Smokepaw's noise of scorn almost made Freepaw leap on him to show him, but Reedstar's voice came from the entrance of the Twoleg nest. "What in the name of StarClan is going on here?"
"Freepaw brought an enemy cat into our camp!" Smokepaw called instantly.
"I understood that, from the scent," Reedstar mewed smoothly.
"I can leave," Jaggedpaw croaked. Freepaw could tell that he was trying to keep himself together and dignified in the presence of another, foreign Clan.
"Don't," Freepaw whispered. Louder, to Reedstar, he mewed, "Jaggedpaw has been judged wrongly both here and in ShadowClan. I would like him to become an apprentice here, so the cats can see what a benefit he is."
Reedstar nodded. "He is strong," he agreed, with a side glare at Smokepaw. "And he seems smart to come here. But all the cats here know I usually don't take in cats, especially ones from other Clans."
"What harm can it do?" Thorntail asked. "We gain a cat, and ShadowClan loses one."
"We could be gaining a disadvantage," Reedstar retorted.
"Please," Jaggedpaw mewed. "At least I'm still training, and I can help do duties. There must be a reason why you're here and your camp is across the territory."
"Our camp burned down," a she-cat named Amberblaze told him.
"Well, Freepaw was gathering sticks when I found him. I could help with that," Jaggedpaw meowed hopefully.
"We do need extra paws," Reedstar murmured.
The cats fell silent, waiting for their leader's decision.
"You can join ThunderClan, Jaggedpaw," Reedstar told Jaggedpaw, loud enough for his Clan to hear. "But, beware, you will be watched."

Chapter 4

Freepaw heard Reedstar tell Brambletail, "You're ready for your first apprentice. You can mentor Jaggedpaw, and I'll have to evaluate him to see how far along he is."
When he noticed Freepaw listening, he added louder, "And our apprentices now need their first test."
Freepaw felt Reedstar's gaze burn into him, and worry radiated from his leader. He picked up a thought, He won't do well at all. He'll be like Willowpaw.
I won't be! Freepaw retorted to himself. I have Yellowfang's help!
"Your test, and Mousepaw's, Smokepaw's, and Jaggedpaw's, will be tomorrow. Meet me and your mentors at the training clearing."
Jaggedpaw gulped next to him.
Freepaw heard Mousepaw and Smokepaw talking over by a corner. He padded over and mewed loudly, "We have a test tomorrow."
"I know someone who won't pass," Smokepaw jabbed. Pretending to rethink, he added, "Actually, two someones."
Jaggedpaw didn't hiss at the young cat, and Freepaw wondered if he was thinking the very same thing.
Freepaw probed Jaggedpaw's mind, and memories swirled through it.
Oh, no, Freepaw thought to himself, but he probed more and broke into a memory.
Jaggedpaw was turning away from meeting Freepaw when a thought hit him: It sounds great if a blind cat can be a full warrior in ThunderClan.
Freepaw's heart swelled.
The memory skipped, to where Jaggedpaw was training with his mentor, apparently the next day.
"C'mon, you stupid overgrown piece of fox-dung," Jaggedpaw's mentor snapped as Jaggedpaw messed up again.
"I'm exhausted," Jaggedpaw protested.
"No you're not," Jaggedpaw's mentor sneered. "You're just weak."
"C'mon, Weedfur, you know that's not true," Jaggedpaw whispered.
"Try again," Weedfur demanded.
Jaggedpaw's anger pierced Freepaw like a thorn.
"Weedfur had no right," he mumbled.
"What?" Jaggedpaw asked.
"Nothing," Freepaw mewed quickly.
"Have you gone crazy?" Smokepaw sneered.
Mousepaw just watched, Freepaw noticed, with worry radiating from her.


Freepaw's tail flicked slowly back and forth as he waited in the clearing for his mentors.
Mousepaw and Smokepaw had drifted away from him, and were talking to Jaggedpaw in high-pitched, drawn-out voices.
"Today we have test," Smokepaw told him.
Jaggedpaw didn't make any sound or move from where he was sitting. His tail flicked contentedly back and forth.
Freepaw picked up a thought: They're treating me so much better here than in ShadowClan.
Oh, StarClan help him, Freepaw pleaded.
"Stop talking to him like that," a voice said suddenly. "He came here to be treated better, and I'd expect better of you."
Grayfoot was leading the mentors into the clearing.
Brambletail was nervous, Thorntail apprehensive, and Duskfoot emotionless.
Is she why my sister is saying and doing nothing? Freepaw wondered.
"Let's get started," Grayfoot continued, looking around the clearing. "Reedstar has put me in charge of today's tests. We will have fighting and hunting challenges, and I'm sure you will all pass."
Freepaw picked up on a thought, too. At least, Smokepaw and Mousepaw will.
Freepaw gritted his teeth to keep from saying anything.
"So, I'll send Smokepaw and Jaggedpaw on their way hunting, and Freepaw and Mousepaw can stay here," Grayfoot instructed. "I'll watch the fighting with Thorntail, and Duskfoot and Brambletail can evaluate Smokepaw and Jaggedpaw."
"Actually, can I be with Jaggedpaw?" Freepaw asked slowly.
"Only so he can win," Smokepaw muttered.
"I'm just worried that Smokepaw will be stupid and mess with Jaggedpaw." Adapting a fake sweet tone, he added, "I don't want Smokepaw to get hurt."
Jaggedpaw's eyes widened in disbelief, and Smokepaw narrowed his.
"Okay," Grayfoot mewed easily. "Mousepaw and Smokepaw can hunt."
Freepaw noticed Mousepaw wrinkle her nose secretly.
"I think I'll be fine today," he muttered to himself.
He felt Yellowfang's approval deep inside of him.

Chapter 5

"Go!" Grayfoot called. His voice rang in Freepaw's ears.
He felt Jaggedpaw leap at him, and he dodged to one side. As soon as he lands, jump on him, he told himself.
He acted without thinking after that.
In what seemed like heartbeats, he had Jaggedpaw pinned under his paws.
Grayfoot stared.
Freepaw directed his eyes at Smokepaw's mentor, and mewed, "Let's get a move on with the hunting, shall we?"


"Okay," Brambletail announced loudly as we approached him. "I'm waiting for Smokepaw and Mousepaw to come back, and Duskfoot is creeping around watching them."
"Okay," Jaggedpaw mewed agreeably. He sat down.
Freepaw dug a claw into the ground, moving it around in the dirt. He couldn't stop thinking about how he had beaten Jaggedpaw so quickly. It was like he hadn't even been trying... or was Freepaw trying harder than usual?
The undergrowth rustled and Freepaw smelled Mousepaw approaching.
"Hey, Mousepaw!" Freepaw called to his sister.
Mousepaw nodded happily and dropped the prey that she was holding.
"Is that all?" Brambletail asked, his voice almost sounding like scorn.
"No, I have some buried back there," Mousepaw told him, jerking her tail behind her. "I'll go get it, if you want."
"That would be good," Brambletail mewed sarcastically.
Freepaw stood. "D'you need any help?" he asked.
Mousepaw looked at him and shrugged. "I, uh... sure," she decided.
Freepaw's heart soared. He had not had a conversation with his sister since he had been a kit, and now was his chance!
Mousepaw led her brother through the forest, stopping every once in a while to pick up a mouse or a squirrel or a vole. The small bodies were adding up, and Freepaw was sure he would have to go back soon.
"What do you think about Smokepaw?" Mousepaw asked suddenly.
Freepaw couldn't tell his sister the truth. "Why?" he asked, trying to avoid the question.
"I really like him," Mousepaw confessed. "And I think he likes me, but I know you don't like him..." She trailed off thoughtfully, her gaze boring into Freepaw.
"He's okay," Freepaw muttered.
"He hates you," Mousepaw told Freepaw.
"No, really?" Freepaw asked, purring. He sensed another mound and walked towards it.
"No, that's-" Mousepaw began.
"Hey! Prey-stealer!" Smokepaw's voice rang out through the forest.
Freepaw felt himself be tackled.
"Don't hurt my brother," Mousepaw hissed.
Smokepaw clambered off of Freepaw. "Oh, sorry. I thought he was ShadowClan."
"Of course you did," Freepaw muttered, shaking himself off of dust and debris.
Anger and hatred radiated from Smokepaw. "He should be in ShadowClan. Away from us. We don't need a blind cat and an overgrown apprentice!"
That did it. Freepaw's voice lowered to a dangerously low hiss. "He caught greencough late in his kithood."
Smokepaw didn't react to Freepaw's voice like he thought he would, and only replied, "Fetch my prey too, blind cat."
Freepaw swiped at Smokepaw's front leg with his claw and he staggered.
"Hey!" Mousepaw's voice was high-pitched as the fight began right before her eyes.
Freepaw didn't hesitate to leap on Smokepaw.
"Ger'off of me!" Smokepaw yowled. His voice was masked by Freepaw's weight.
"Get off of him, Freepaw!" Mousepaw commanded suddenly.
Freepaw clambered off of the shaking Smokepaw in astonishment. Where did my sister get that from?
"I didn't do anything!" Smokepaw wailed.
That's right, play weak, Freepaw thought.
"I'm going to go get my prey," Mousepaw decided. She marched away.
Smokepaw nodded and went the other way.
Freepaw was left alone. Who cared if Duskfoot was watching him from behind?
He didn't stand a chance against Smokepaw if Mousepaw was on his side.

Chapter 6

"You stole our apprentice!" a voice screeched.
Freepaw drowsily lifted his head, and, noticing he could see, glanced at Jaggedpaw.
The ginger apprentice was asleep, snoring softly.
He poked his head out of the den. He saw Tigerstar, ShadowClan's leader, standing in the center of the camp, his fur bristling and his tail lashing angrily back and forth.
Reedstar was bristling back. "He chose to come here!" he shot back.
Tigerstar seemed to be resisting an urge to jump on Reedstar.
Freepaw then saw it: a strange cat whispering in the orange tabby's ear.
Gasping to himself, he crept forward, fully revealing himself. He crouched in the shadows, glad his pelt was jet-black.
He crept around the clearing, keeping in the shadows.
The stars gleamed overhead, Silverpelt clearly outlined, but that didn't stop Tigerstar from coming here, at this time of night.
Freepaw reached his destination: close enough to bite the strange cat's tail. He assumed it was dead, because Reedstar didn't show any sign of noticing it.
Overcoming his sudden fear, Freepaw jabbed the cat's tail with a claw.
It nearly leaped out of its fur.
Tigerstar looked around wildly. Noticing Freepaw, he hissed.
Freepaw sneered, "What are you doing here so late at night? Yelling about Jaggedpaw?"
"Yelling about my son," Tigerstar corrected.
Freepaw let the shock show on his face. The strange cat was still there, so he could see the anger in Tigerstar's eyes.
"I've been telling my Clan that he just started training late, and that as soon as he becomes a warrior he'll be respected. But no, they still mistreated him. Especially Weedfur, his mentor," he noted.
"He came here because of that," Freepaw told Tigerstar.
"I want him back," Tigerstar commanded, turning back to Reedstar.
"It's up to him," Reedstar mewed smoothly. "Freepaw, go get Jaggedpaw."
Freepaw raced for the den, and the strange cat followed.
"Who are you?" Freepaw hissed. There was no Clan scent on this cat.
"I'm Nightstar," the cat replied. "A previous leader of ShadowClan, back in the Old Forest."
Freepaw nodded, and asked, "Why are you here?"
"To help Tigerstar control himself," Nightstar replied.
Freepaw nodded and jabbed Jaggedpaw. "Get up!" he hissed. "Tigerstar's here."
Jaggedpaw raised his head. "Whatsit?" he asked groggily.
"Tigerstar's here. Your father?" he prompted.
Jaggedpaw was up in a heartbeat, running out of the den.
Freepaw followed quickly, waiting to see what would happen.
"Choose," Tigerstar commanded his son.
"ThunderClan," Jaggedpaw mewed back instantly, loyally. He stepped back to stand next to Reedstar and Freepaw.
Tigerstar bristled and left.
Freepaw's vision went dark.
"You four apprentices will become warriors soon," Reedstar told Jaggedpaw and Freepaw suddenly. "I just have to wait for the right thing to happen."
Freepaw nodded and yawned. A long day of training was ahead of him tomorrow!

Chapter 7

Freepaw sat up and stretched, wishing he could blink in bright morning sunlight.
His mind thought about his dream. It had brought an ominous warning from Yellowfang: "ShadowClan are attacking at sunset. Prepare your Clan, Freepaw."
I can't prepare my Clan! Half of them don't respect me, Freepaw thought.
Mousepaw woke up beside him. "Morning, Freepaw," she grunted.
"Hi," Freepaw replied. "Did you dream anything?" His mind was already starting to wrap around a plan.
"Nah," Mousepaw mewed, shaking her head. "I never have ones that matter. Do you?"
Freepaw settled himself in a nest. "I had a dream sent by StarClan," he replied slowly.
Mousepaw leaned forward, her eyes widening. "What?" she gasped. "What did they say?"
"They said that ShadowClan are attacking today, at sunset." Freepaw's voice was dark. "I think it's because they want Jaggedpaw back."
"Jaggedpaw..." Mousepaw sighed heavily. "We need to tell him."
Freepaw remembered the night before, where he had seen Nightstar.
"He already knows that he's wanted back, at least by Tigerstar," Freepaw murmured. "He was here last night."
Mousepaw nodded slowly, hostility radiating from her.
"It'll be fine," Freepaw reassured her. "Jaggedpaw will stay."
"Why attack?" Mousepaw asked angrily.
"They've already asked for him back," Freepaw pointed out mildly.
Mousepaw didn't reply, but mewed, "Tell Reedstar." She stood and padded out of the den.


"You got a dream from StarClan?" Reedstar asked again.
"Yes," Freepaw hissed impatiently. "And it's important, so can you stop doubting me for once and listen?"
Reedstar sat down with shock radiating from him in waves. "Sure."
"ShadowClan are attacking us at sunset," Freepaw said slowly. "They want Jaggedpaw back, and apparently they'll do anything for him."
Reedstar curled his lip, but nodded slowly. "Then I'll have to alert the Clan and Jaggedpaw."
Freepaw nodded at him and stepped out.


As Reedstar stopped talking, the Clan buzzed. Freepaw could hear their thoughts.
Jaggedpaw's tail was flicking back and forth, and irritation and fear was coming from him in overwhelming waves.
"If they want him back so bad," Smokepaw called, "why fight? Our Clan would be much stronger without him. A fight weakens every Clan."
The Clan was absolutely silent. Jaggedpaw did not say a word.
Grayfoot hissed, "Smokepaw, what do you have against Jaggedpaw? To me, it sounds as if you're jealous."
Smokepaw hissed, "I'm not jealous!"
Jaggedpaw looked at Smokepaw, anger now coming from him. But he still did not speak.
"He can't even stick up for himself!" Smokepaw yowled, his voice rising. "Why should we have a cat here that doesn't even stick up for himself? At least Freepaw does," he added darkly, his voice bitter.
"He's not creating a problem by retaliating," Thorntail told Smokepaw angrily. "You only want him to retaliate so you can have a good reason to hate him. He's not stupid like that."
Surprise was coming from Jaggedpaw. Freepaw picked up a thought. I'm just scared that he'll fight me. I'm not a good fighter!
Freepaw blinked and turned back to Smokepaw, who was yelling at Thorntail to shut up.
Reedstar hissed. "Don't tell cats, especially older cats, to shut up."
Smokepaw bared his teeth and crouched low to the ground. "I'm just tired of cats hating on me, and telling me what to do!"
"What do you expect?" Grayfoot snarled loudly. "You're an apprentice, for StarClan's sake!"
"I hate this Clan!" Smokepaw yowled.
Suddenly, outside the camp, a battle cry rang out. "ShadowClan! Attack!"

Chapter 8

"It's only sunhigh!" a ThunderClan cat cried.
Freepaw's vision opened and a cat whispered in Freepaw's ear, "ThunderClan will have one more warrior during this battle."
Freepaw looked to his right and saw Yellowfang, and on her other side, Nightstar.
"Thank you," Freepaw whispered. "Protect Jaggedpaw. Don't let any cat get to him."
"This is his battle," Nightstar told Freepaw. "You can only watch him."
Freepaw suppressed a shiver and glared at Yellowfang. "You said they'd come at sunset!"
"Tigerstar changed his mind," Yellowfang protested.
Freepaw grunted and saw Tigerstar plunge through the tunnel.
"Good luck," Nightstar whispered.
Freepaw nodded at him and tackled the first warrior he saw, a scraggly gray tom with bright green eyes.
The scraggly gray tom looked desperately at Jaggedpaw before taking a wild swipe at Freepaw's face.
Freepaw dodged quickly and scratched the tom's belly.
"You're Jaggedpaw's friend," the tom hissed angrily. "You stole him! You stole my apprentice!"
Freepaw barely had time to ponder this before Weedfur took another crazy swipe at his face and bounded across the camp towards Jaggedpaw.
Jaggedpaw was fighting the ShadowClan deputy, Marshclaw. He didn't look like he was struggling, but Freepaw knew that Jaggedpaw was able to hide his emotions from the cats around him.
Yellowfang tackled Weedfur and bounded off, and Freepaw jumped and landed squarely on the ShadowClan cat's shoulders.
"Get off!" Weedfur snapped, biting Freepaw's scruff.
"You hurt my friend," Freepaw hissed, shrugging the tom off with his shoulders.
Weedfur backed up and got ready to leap again, but Freepaw jumped first.
The two toms met in midair, and Freepaw managed to overcome the warrior and land on top.
He's weak. He would fight more fiercely, Freepaw realized.
"You've been weakened somehow," Freepaw mewed, stepping away from the tom.
A yowl came from a battle far across the clearing, but Freepaw didn't bother to look.
"ShadowClan are blaming me," Weedfur gasped. "Can you believe it? My own Clan!"
"Why?" Freepaw asked.
"I thought Jaggedpaw was weak. I was his only enemy in ShadowClan. I hate myself now."
"Because you have scars," Freepaw growled.
Weedfur had obviously been hoping he'd get more sympathy, but Freepaw didn't linger on that.
"Stop fighting!" a foreign voice yowled.
A broad-shouldered tom was standing on the Highledge, surrounded by cats of similar strength.
The cat continued, "Or I'll have my army tear you apart."

Chapter 9

The small battles slowly stopped as cats realized that this cat wasn't messing around.
"Who are you?" Reedstar asked, hostility tinging his voice. "Why are you on the Highledge?"
"Because it's high," the strange cat sneered. "And it's a ledge."
Reedstar grimaced.
"Where is Rushclaw?" the strange cat asked loudly.
Freepaw shrunk back behind Weedfur. The voices! They've called me Rushclaw!
Freepaw noticed Mousepaw glance at Freepaw, and glare at Smokepaw.
"There is no Rushclaw here," Reedstar hissed. "You must be thinking of the WindClan hero."
The strange cat glared. "Rushclaw is here. He went for rebirth in StarClan. He is here, in a different body." Pausing for a heartbeat, he added, "I think you all call him Freepaw, of all names."
Weedfur shoved Freepaw forward, growling.
"Rushclaw," the strange cat sneered. "I am Fang, leader of the Lake Army, the strongest army here."
Jaggedpaw hissed and stepped forward. "The Clans could easily overcome you."
"You may have numbers," Fang hissed, "but we have skill."
Freepaw didn't just feel the fear, he could see it.
Yellowfang and Nightstar stepped forward to guard Freepaw's flanks. Yellowfang pressed close to him.
Fang leaped down from the Highledge, with a loud thump as he landed.
Freepaw shivered as Fang stopped in front of Freepaw. "You know nothing about this cat," he yowled to the two Clans.
A wave of undeniable dread swept over Freepaw.
"He's the hero Rushclaw, reborn," Fang continued.
"So what?" Smokepaw asked loudly. "Does that mean he's even weaker than we all thought?"
Thorntail walked towards Freepaw, his shoulders tense. "He's even stronger than we all thought."
Ravenheart beat Freepaw to the question. "Why is he so strong?"
"The hero Rushclaw was a powerful cat, even without abilities," Fang hissed. "You all know what he did, I don't need to recap. But if he's here again, this cat is destined for great things." Fang gestured towards Freepaw.
Freepaw felt his heart sink. He knew that there was a prophecy about him, but he had never heard it.
Smokepaw was growling, deep in his throat. Ravenheart had some sort of pride in his eyes. Mousepaw looked awed. Thorntail looked worried. Reedstar looked tense, and Fang had no expression whatsoever on his face.
"Continue," Fang grunted. He leaped away and beckoned to his army. They left quietly.
"Get out," Reedstar growled at Tigerstar. "Your son is ours now."
Tigerstar nodded and raced away, leaving his Clan to follow slowly behind.

Chapter 10

A moon later, Thorntail approached Freepaw with a happy air about him.
Freepaw acknowledged him by raising his head. "Hi."
Pride radiated from Thorntail as he said bluntly, "Your warrior ceremony is right now."
Freepaw gasped, and he leaped up. "No way!"
Brackenheart padded up to them behind Thorntail. "Yeah," he purred. "Reedstar said he would change it up a bit," he added.
Freepaw couldn't help but nuzzle his father and mentor. Then, as an afterthought, he asked, "What about Smokepaw and Mousepaw?" He knew that Jaggedpaw wasn't yet ready.
"Mousepaw will become a warrior with you," Thorntail mewed carefully. "Smokepaw will wait another moon. Maybe you becoming a warrior before him will make him be a little bit kinder to you."
"You are Rushclaw, after all," Brackenheart added.
"Smokepaw wouldn't be nicer to me in a thousand moons," Freepaw declared.
Thorntail shrugged. "Well, your warrior ceremony is now. Get Mousepaw and tell her."


Freepaw saw the excitement and pride in Mousepaw's eyes. He saw Smokepaw's anger. He saw Yellowfang sitting next to Reedstar, unnoticed, on the Highledge. He looked up to the sky and saw a sinking sun.
"These two cats are to become warriors," Reedstar called to the Clan, staring at Mousepaw and Freepaw. "Their mentors are smart and cunning, and they have been raised by a wonderful pair."
The four mentioned cats' eyes shone with pride.
"Strong warriors are the result of cats like this. These two cats will fight for their Clan no matter what circumstance. They will put their lives last in possible danger.
"So my question is," Reedstar continued, "will you defend your Clan, even if it costs you your life?"
"I will," Freepaw croaked, echoing Mousepaw.
"Mousepaw." Reedstar's voice hung in the air like the smoke from the fire, except no cat screeched in pain or coughed. "You will be known as Mouseclaw."
The warriors around Mouseclaw cheered, but Freepaw cheered loudest. "Mouseclaw!" he chanted. "Mouseclaw!"
Mouseclaw's eyes shone with obvious pride.
"Freepaw." His name hung, too, as Reedstar let the Clan quiet down.
Freepaw's heart pounded.
"You, despite the cats that doubted you, have shown bravery and strength in the worst situations," Reedstar told Freepaw. "You see everything, despite your blindness. You truly echo Rushclaw," he added louder.
Freepaw let the praise wash over him, and he knew that every cat but one surrounding him felt the same way as Reedstar.
"Freepaw," Reedstar mewed louder, "you will be known as Freestep."
As the Clan chanted his name, Freestep felt as if nothing could go wrong, ever.


Be sure to look out for Breaking the Rules, the next book in the Standards series! ForkJust a lonely utensil Fork.png

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