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Raging

War is coming

Steady your paws

Bloodshed is starting

Bring out your claws

POV: Thornstrike

I stood straight as Snowstar began the ceremony for the three kits who were becoming apprentices today. "Tigerkit, Fogkit, and Creamkit, step forward."

Moonflight was avoiding me for some reason, and she was seated across the clearing next to Flarefoot, and was talking excitedly about something with the fire red she-cat.

"Tigerkit, step forward."

The little dark brown tabby she-cat bounced forward, her amber eyes so like mine gleaming. "From this moment on, until you receive your warrior name, you shall be known as Tigerpaw." Snowstar paused to give me a look. "Thornstrike, you are a strong and loyal warrior, and I know you'll teach Tigerpaw well."

Tigerpaw's eyes widened as I padded up to her, and she stretched up to touch noses with me. "Don't worry, you'll be the best warrior when I'm done with you."

She purred softly and I led her to the side.

Moonflight still wasn't looking at me.

The rest of the ceremony went well, and surprisingly enough, Moonflight was given Creampaw and Birdsong got Fogpaw.

And yet she still wasn't looking at me.

Before I could go ask her about why she was being so cold, Tigerpaw cut in front of me and mewed, "Are you going to take me out? Surely we're not doing something boring like doing the bedding, or even hunting. We're doing some fighting today, right?"

I cut her off before she could keep talking, "We're going to explore the territory, and then we'll do a few fighting moves if you're not too tired."

She let out an excited squeal and shot over to where her siblings were to boast. I sauntered slowly after her, and Moonflight and Birdsong looked faintly amused at the dark brown she-cat's excitement.

When I finally reached my bubbling apprentice, Moonflight lifted her head to meet my gaze. She seemed to flinch, and I was uncomfortable with the tension between us.

"When are we going to go out, Thornstrike?" Tigerpaw mewed, her eyes alight with curiosity. I purred and mewed.

"I was thinking about asking Moonflight and Birdsong if they wanted to take Fogpaw and Creampaw along too." I exchanged glances with the other two mentors.

Tigerpaw's littermates perked up, "Can we?" they begged, "We want to go out too!" Then Creampaw added.

"I don't want to hear Tigerpaw boasting about all the cool things she saw out there all by herself! That would be so unfair!"

I laughed and so did the other two mentors, "Alright, alright," Moonflight purred, "We're going together."

That made Fogpaw and Creampaw both squeal too, and the three of them raced for the camp entrance. I rolled my eyes at their unbending excitement and started after them. Birdsong squeezed herself next to me, and that left Moonflight on the other side.

The littermates were pacing impatiently at the entrance, and Tigerpaw yowled, "Hurry up you lazybones! I want to get out there and start exploring!" She looked ready to plunge outside herself anyways.

I sighed and caught up to them, "When we're outside, and especially when we're close to the border, you'll stay behind me at all times." I glanced at all of them, "Alright?"

Fogpaw and Creampaw nodded hurriedly, but Tigerpaw just stared back with wide eyes, "Why do we need to stay behind you? It's not like you'll be able to protect us if fifty RushClan soldiers jump out to kill us."

I blinked at her, then growled, "Well I can at least try. If you stay ahead of me, you'll certainly die if that were to happen. Now if the three of us," I pointed at Birdsong and Moonflight, "We to be in front of you, you would have a chance at living. Now unless you want to go to StarClan early, I would suggest listening to me." I mewed sourly.

My apprentice shrugged and obediently stayed behind me. Sighing in slight relief, I led the way out. Perhaps having an apprentice would prove to be more difficult than I thought...

~

The tour wasn't so bad, Tigerpaw didn't actually disobey any of my rules the entire trip, and when we got back, she was too tired to insist on learning some fighting moves. I decided I would go border patrolling since the three apprentices were fast asleep now.

"Fawnsky, can I join the next border patrol?" I asked, padding up to the light brown tabby deputy. The she-cat looked up and nodded.

"Sure, they're just about to go out."

She pointed to Flarefoot, Smokepaw, Hawkwing, and Rainsong. I nodded thanks and trotted over to join them, "Fawnsky said I could join your patrol."

Flarefoot, who seemed to be leading the patrol smiled, "Of course, we were just about to leave too." She turned and led the way out.

I fell in step next to Rainsong, who had dropped back, looking slightly down. "Hey, Rainsong." I mewed softly. She looked up, slightly startled.

"Oh hey, Thornstrike." She tried on a small smile.

Rainsong had always been slightly on the down side, her parents died in a bloody border skirmish with RushClan, and her brother died soon after from greencough. Her life had been pretty depressing, but nowadays she was getting a little better. She just rarely talked.

"How are you?"

The light gray she-cat didn't reply, her blue eyes flicking away. I winced slightly, realizing what a dense question that was.

"I'm fine," she replied suddenly, her eyes back to mine, the little smile still plastered on her face, though it didn't look fake anymore.

"That's good." I mewed back, purring slightly.

She gave me a solid smile this time, and we walked after the patrol in silence.

Flarefoot was telling Smokepaw about watching for RushClan patrols as we neared the border. The light gray tom nodded earnestly as Flarefoot instructed him about battle procedures and what to do when a patrol arrived and such.

I suddenly wished Tigerpaw was here so I could teach her to same, but I had told her enough for today on the tour of the territory.

"Oh, what do we have here? A little group of apprentices?"

All of us looked up suddenly, and there was a group of RushClan warriors smirking right ahead of us. I instantly dropped into an attack crouch, and so did Rainsong.

Flarefoot pushed Smokepaw behind her and growled, "What do you want?"

"We were just planning on starting the war."

Rainsong let out a little whimper, which luckily the RushClan cats didn't catch, and I pressed against her to calm her down. "It's going to be okay," I whispered, "I won't let them hurt you."

The RushClan cats let out howls of delight and leaped forward to charge us. I ducked and kicked out, sending the RushClan warrior away sprawling.

I whirled around and met him claw for claw. Rainsong was battling her own match, but she seemed to be doing well, twisting and ducking, not letting the enemy get a hit on her.

While I was distracted, the RushClan warrior surged up and knocked me backwards, clawing at my shoulder. I gritted my teeth and rolled aside, letting him fall in beside me before striking back. "Smokepaw, go get reinforcements!" I heard Flarefoot call out.

Some of the RushClan warriors tried to catch the poor, frightened apprentice, so I barreled into them, taunting them and distracted them from the fleeing apprentice.

The battle went on for what felt like forever, until I heard the battle cry of Snowstar. "StormClan, attack!" Waves of renewed warriors flooded onto the battlefield, and the RushClan warriors turned and fled.

"We'll be back!"

Oh they will be.

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