I hissed in fear and lashed out at the twoleg's paw. It screeched and chased after the six of us, paws outstretched. Crowtalon leaped over a silver, metal bin, and I followed directly behind him, panting.
My worst nightmare came true when I felt the twoleg's paw on my tail. It tugged back hard, and I yowled in pain. I twisted and unsheathed my claws, slashing at it's pink paw. It's other came from behind and haul me up by my scruff. I twisted and squirmed in its grasp, fear pulsing through me.
Even worse was when I thought for a moment that my new clanmates were leaving me. No, Rabbitspring steered them around and they headed my direction, where I dangled from a twoleg paw. The twoleg began to trot away at the sight of the furious cats.
Rabbitspring snarled and raked at the twoleg's leg. It yowled and dropped me to the ground. I landed, dazed, but glad to be out of it's grasp. Sparrowtalon hissed at the twoleg, and I screeched in fury, my claws meeting bare skin.
The twoleg raced away, but we didn't give chase.
"Thanks," I muttered, embarrassed. I licked my ruffled fur to smooth it down.
"No problem," Rabbitspring mewed, "That's what clanmates are for, huh?"
"It almost got me too!" Crowtalon said.
"Well then you're lucky I was behind you." I hope nobody would tell that I got picked up by a twoleg.
"Alright, let's go find Beetlefang." Rabbitspring took off where we had originally been going, following the warrior's scent.
"I'll bet you anything that twoleg was the one that took Beetlefang," I mewed.
"Probably. We'll find him for sure." Rabbitspring seemed confident enough, and I trusted in that. We stayed clear of the thunderpath the remainder of the time, but the worst part was when we reached the place where all the twoleg nests were.
I felt like something was creeping up my fur, seeing all the strange dens and wooden posts that surrounded them. It was like a barricaded, tiny camp, only it was so much more worse.
"Hey, you," Rabbitspring called to a white she-cat sitting up on a wooden post, licking her paws. Her blue eyes widened at the sight of six battle-scarred, lithe cats.
"What?" She mewed, looking as if she would jump down into her camp any moment.
"Have you seen a large dark brown-and white tom around here?" Rabbitspring asked.
"Yes!" The she-cat's eyes brightened, "I saw him with the housefolk across the street. He looked like he wanted to claw out their eyes though."
"Huh?" I cocked my head at the kittypet's words. Housefolk? Street?
"The creatures that are furless and stand on two legs. Know what those are?" The white she-cat mewed, almost sarcastically.
"Twolegs!" I mewed rather loudly.
"Alright. Thanks for your help." Rabbitspring nodded at the white, soft-furred kittypet, then we followed the direction in which she had pointed out.
"It must be this nest, right?" Runningfire paced across the front of a twoleg nest, "Beetlefang's scent is a lot stronger here."
"Yes," Rabbitspring mewed, "Okay, Runningfire and Sparrowtalon, I want you to see if you can distract the twoleg inside while the rest of us try to find a way in. Got it?"
"Great StarClan, I always get the boring jobs!" Runningfire muttered as he and Sparrowtalon padded to the side of the nest. My heart was beating fast, I really didn't want to tangle with anymore twolegs. I could see that the two other warriors were looking into a little transparent wall of some sort.
Sparrowtalon gave a little nod in our direction, which signaled to us that the twoleg was approaching. Rabbitspring ordered us to take cover in the bushes while Sparrowtalon and Runningfire acted like loving kittypets.
We waited for the wooden slab that the twoleg opened to be clear, then Rabbitspring sent Boulderclaw and I in. The stench of dirt and fake-food filled the air as we stepped in.
"Boulderclaw!" A voice called across the nest. A large dark brown-and-white tom scratched at a mesh den-thing.
"Beetlefang!" Boulderclaw's pale blue eyes lightened up, and he bounded across the crowded space. I followed him, and Beetlefang eyed me curiously.
"Who's that?" He growled.
"That's Badgerclaw, he's joined WindClan. But I'll tell you the story later, let's get you out!" Boulderclaw scratched and bit at the mesh, but Beetlefang still wasn't freed. I joined in, scratching until my pads bled. Finally, I must've hit a right spot, because the mesh-door opened and Beetlefang burst out.
He shook his pelt out and bounded out the wooden slab that was still open, "Let's get out of here!" He called over his shoulder. Boulderclaw and I followed the large tom out, and almost burst out laughing at the sight of Runningfire and Sparrowtalon being friendly with the twoleg. I inhaled fresh air, rid of the stench of twoleg.
"Let's go!" Rabbitspring ordered. Runningfire and Sparrowtalon tore away from the twoleg and dashed off after us. We sped away from Twolegplace and into the moor beyond.
Four moons later.
My paws itched to chase a hare that I had spotted.
"Come on, Gingerbreeze. Can't I just catch it real quick?" I begged.
"No. This is a border patrol, Badgerclaw, not a hunting patrol. Even Oakpaw knows better not to chase prey on a border patrol," Gingerbreeze called from over her shoulder.
I growled under my breath and padded after the patrol. Rosedapple rolled her eyes at me. It was Gingerbreeze, Rosedapple, Oakpaw, Ryefrost, Beetlefang and I.
I could smell something foul coming from up ahead. "What is that?" I asked.
"What's what?" Gingerbreeze asked, then she sniffed the air, then recoiled. "Ugh! Smells like crow-food!" She led us to the scent that lay just behind a tiny stream that trickled through the territory.
Ryefrost gasped and gazed at the spot, and I followed it. It was the body of a cat. Runningfire.
"That's my father!" Oakpaw wailed. He rushed forward and buried his nose into Runningfire's bright ginger tabby fur.
"Who did this?" Gingerbreeze growled. I opened my jaws to taste the air, but nothing came. "Nothing," I mewed.
Rosedapple and Ryefrost began padding around the area, trying to detect any signs of a killer. Meanwhile, I examined Runningfire's body. His fur was ruffled, and there was a slit along his throat. No signs of a struggle, just a clean cut.
"Rosedapple, take Oakpaw back to camp," Gingerbreeze ordered, "And report to Dovestar what happened." The red-dappled she-cat nodded, and steered the pale brown tom in the direction of camp. I watched them fade away in the distance, and then looked back to Beetlefang. His mood today had been cheerful, ever since Heatherpaw earned her name Heatherwhisper earlier before evening arose, but now, all seemed ruined without the lively Runningfire.
"Come on. Let's go back to camp. I'm sure Oakpaw has already broken the news to Flameheart, Firepaw and Thornpaw. We'll carry Runningfire's body back." Gingerbreeze nudged her nose under Runningfire's flank, lifting his limp body onto her shoulders. I got onto her side to support some of Runningfire's weight, Beetlefang on the other.
"Look!" Firepaw called out as she spotted my patrol entering camp. She approached Runningfire and sniffed his body, wrinkling her nose at the death-scent.
Dovestar was already out of her den, summoned by Rosedapple. "We will hold vigil for him tonight," She announced. The pale-gray she-cat then looked at Runningfire's body, "What a shame. He was a great warrior." She hung her head.
Flameheart wailed in sorrow. Her stomach was rounded with expected kits again. "He'll never meet them...And he'll never see Firepaw, Thornpaw, and Oakpaw's warrior ceremony..."
"He will see them," Sorrelsong reassured, "He'll be watching them from StarClan."
"Firepaw, Thornpaw, Oakpaw." Dovestar called the names out of the three apprentices. "There has been death tonight, yes. But you three have been brave through everything you've experienced. In your turn, I make you warriors."
The life in Firepaw's eyes returned as she bounded out to the TallRock. Oakpaw padded slowly after her, tail drooping, and Thornpaw hesitated for a moment before leaving Runningfire.
I watched Flameheart gaze at her kits, "I see Runningfire's spirit in Firepaw," She muttered, half to herself. I followed Ryefrost to where the rest of the clan was gathering.
"Firepaw, from this point forward you will be known as Firewind. StarClan honors your bravery and courage." Firewind's bright yellow eyes glowed with pride and joy as she stepped back to join her former mentor, Sparrowtalon.
"Thornpaw-" Dovestar called up the ginger tom, "From this point forward you will be known as Thornflame. StarClan honors your courage and loyalty." Thornflame just sat back and stared at the stars that lit up the night sky.
"Oakpaw. From this point forward you will be known as Oakfire. StarClan honors your courage and strength."
"Firewind! Thornflame! Oakfire!" I joined in the calling of the new warrior's names. Only then did I realize all their names had something to do with fire, as in Runningfire. There was Firewind, Thornflame, and Oakfire. Why didn't I notice that before? I yawned with exhaustion, I had seen too much today-a dead body, warrior ceremonies...Yeah, that's it.
"Come on, I'm going to sleep." I flicked Ryefrost's ear with my tail. She followed me as I padded away to an empty space in camp. I curled up in the soft, tall grass and relaxed my eyes until I eventually was embraced in the darkness of my sleep.
I could begin to feel age creeping up on me. Memories of ThunderClan and all my former life were now gone, and I was living happily. Two years ago, I was at the Gathering when Lionstar announced my kits had been made warriors. They were now Hailfang, Nightstorm and Wolfsong. I was proud, yes, but I didn't care as much as I should have.
Squeals of joy rippled through my ears as Sagekit batted at a moss-ball by my paws. I tossed the ball, sending the tiny gray-and-white she-kit bounding after it. I remembered the day two moons ago when Ryefrost had given birth to Sagekit. That day I knew my life was complete, as well as the nightmare that I was getting older.
Sorrow grasped me as I remembered how one of the first cats in WindClan I'd ever met, was found dead. Runningfire. That was nearly four years ago, and his name still ran strong throughout WindClan.
I sighed, wishing to do my life all over again and fix my mistakes, but of course, nobody can be perfect.
"What's wrong?" Ryefrost asked, coming to sit beside me.
"Nothing. Just feeling my age, it's terrible!" I growled, "And thinking about my past. I wonder if Frostwing and Ashclaw are elders yet."
"I don't know. But I know Lionstar is getting up there as well, soon Stoneclaw is going to have to take his place," Ryefrost mewed.
"He'll make a good leader." I recalled how Forestwhisker had died a tragic death by being murdered by a fox. I shivered. Everything I once knew or know, is going.
The peaceful moment was ruined as a bloodied Oakfire burst through the gorse tunnel, "It's ShadowClan! They've finally declared war!"
"What?" Sparrowstar poked his head from his den, "Gorsepelt, organize a battle-party, now!" He ordered his deputy. The pale-brown tabby tom immediately began calling out the names of cats.
"-Sandclaw, Foxspring, and Badgerclaw," Gorsepelt finished. I looked at the long line of young cats, and thought that I was the oldest one there.
"Okay-" Jaystone started, who had been made head of the patrol, "Oakfire has said ShadowClan are near the gorge. I don't care how you fight, I just care that we win!" The gray tabby tom rushed out the gorse entrance, the rest of us followed with rallying yowls.
I raced through the barren moor, my claws tearing up the grass in my wake. The drumming of paws running should've been enough to let ShadowClan hear us, but apparently it wasn't because the dark-hearted warriors were still battling with the WindClan patrol.
I screeched, and fell onto a black tom known as Spiderfang. I swept his long legs out from under him and bit onto his ears. Spiderfang growled, and snapped at my face. One of his teeth barely grazed my muzzle, and it still burned. I sent him spinning with a powerful swipe on his shoulder.
All around me, cats of both clans fought, and my ears were ringing with all the snaps, snarls, and yowls. I spotted a dark brown tom heading my direction-Darkwhisper.
He hurled himself onto me, claws latching onto my shoulders. I could feel the sharp-tips digging into my skin, and it hurt. Bad. But I wasn't about to let Darkwhisper know that. I reared up, throwing the younger cat off. He rolled onto the ground, but quickly regained his balance, striking at me again. I side-stepped, dodging his blow. But I didn't see the second cat coming towards me.
I had rolled right into a large dark tabby's paws. He snarled at me and landed blows to my head. My ears rung with impact, and dizziness replaced normality. I was dangerously close to the gorge, and I was afraid I'd get knocked over. I tried to push myself past the two advancing ShadowClan warriors, but it didn't work. Darkwhisper shoved me hard, and before I knew it, I was over the edge of the gorge, but my claws still pierced into the side.
My muscles burned as I strained to stay on the wall. I couldn't look down, and I tried not to imagine myself plunging into the sharp rocks far below. Wind blew, making my fur ruffle and me more uneasy about falling.
Darkwhisper and the other tom were up at the top, sneering at me. But one of my clanmates must've slammed into the dark tabby, because he went plunging into the depths below.
Finally, I just let myself go. I tried to empty my thoughts of Ryefrost and Sagekit, who would be back at camp, mourning. I clawed at the air as I was swung down into the sharp rocks. At first I felt a stabbing, unbearable pain as my back landed onto a tip, then nothing. I couldn't feel anymore pain. The darkness spread to bright light, then a beautiful forest as I entered StarClan's territory. I was welcomed warmly by a bright ginger tabby tom.
"Runningfire!" I bounded happily to my old friend. There was Bluestar and Yellowfang, as well as Snowkit. I purred and nuzzled my little brother.
"I've known it wasn't your fault I died all along," Snowkit whispered. Then the five of us padded into the hunting grounds.
Yes! I'm done! That was the end of Badgerclaw's story! Love it? Hate it? Comment on it to tell me what you think! Though I highly doubt anyone will...Anyways, there it is, the ending.