"Can I join WindClan?" I gulped, fearing what Ryefrost's answer might be.
"Join WindClan?" She looked at me like I was crazy, then she broke out into a purr, "Yes! Well...I have to ask Dovestar first, obviously, but it's fine by me. Come on, I'll take you to camp."
I followed her as she broke off into a run into the barren moorland. It was weird for me, not being in the cover of trees and brambles, but I could live. Hill after hill, we ran, and the farther we went, the more afraid I was of tripping over a rabbit-hole.
"How much farther?" I panted, struggling to keep up with the faster WindClan warrior.
"Not much," Ryefrost mewed, "See that gorse lining over there? Our camp is in a dip surrounded by the gorse."
I peered into the distance, and saw gorse bushes lined in a huge circular area. The land flattened out under the moon, and the grass become taller and harder to see above. I just kept Ryefrost's tail-tip in sight and I was fine. We arrived finally, and I was dying for a rest. Regret filled me as I realized I had just abandoned everything I knew and was born in without a goodbye. What of Cherrypaw? I can't believe I allowed myself to leave my apprentice.
"I smell ThunderClan!" A large dark brown-and-white tom lifted his head from where he curled up with a ginger-and-white she-cat.
"It's okay, Beetlefang," Ryefrost reassured, "He's here for a reason. I'm taking him to Dovestar."
A large dark blue-gray tom stopped us as we approached a large boulder. "What's he here for?"
"Can I speak to Dovestar first, Blueclaw?" Ryefrost asked. Blueclaw snorted, then stepped aside to allow Ryefrost to call into the boulder. I thought she was talking to it at first, until I spied a tiny split in the middle of it where Dovestar must slip in.
"Come in!" Came the reply. Ryefrost and I stepped into a small space large enough for only four cats. The floor was sandy, and it was very dark inside, I was barely able to make out Dovestar's pale-gray color.
"What's he doing here?" Dovestar sniffed.
"He wishes to join WindClan," Ryefrost answered. I squared my shoulders and tried to look my best to impress the WindClan leader.
"What are your reasons?" Dovestar asked me. She studied me, as if trying to figure out what kind of cat I really was.
Do I tell the truth? "My mother, she was cruel to me. She threatened to kill me as a kit and she still shoots me glares and never speaks to me. My former mate won't allow me to see my kits and I just can't stand it in ThunderClan anymore. No one has any respect for me, or cares about my feelings." I hoped Dovestar got that.
She thought for a few moments, and we waited in silence. "Yes, you may. But you will be under watch for a moon or until I think you're worthy of being a WindClan warrior. I will have Runningfire teach you the ways of our clan."
I silently celebrated, happy. "Yes, Dovestar." I dipped my head to the pale-gray she-cat, then followed Ryefrost out.
"We're going to live in the same clan!" She purred happily. She pressed into me, and that was the only time I've ever felt truly loved and accepted.
"Come on. WindClan cats sleep in the open, let's find a spot where the warriors haven't taken up." Ryefrost padded off, avoiding cat's tails and paws.
Embarrassment flooded through me as I almost tripped over a tortoiseshell she-cat, I hope nobody was watching me. Ryefrost eventually found an empty spot near the back of camp, by a dark brown tabby tom. She curled up on the soft, springy grass. I lay down next to her, a little disturbed by the dark tabby's snoring.
"That's Sparrowtalon. He's actually really cool, and funny. Lucky Firepaw, I wish he was my mentor when I was an apprentice!" Ryefrost whispered.
"Who was your mentor?" I asked, curious.
"Hareleap. That tawny-furred tom over there." Ryefrost pointed to the warrior with her tail-tip, "Who was yours?"
"Lionstar," I answered with pride.
"Wow!" Her eyes brightened with surprise, "Lucky." She looked away from me, silent, and fell asleep within heartbeats. I couldn't though. Thoughts of my kits, Cherrypaw, and all the others were still in my mind.
I can't believe I never even told anyone goodbye... I thought, Oh well. They don't need me. But I will miss the forest.
I closed my eyes and waited for sleep to overcome me.
Bright sun seeped into my eyes as I woke.
"Who's that?" A pale brown tabby kit poked his head from the nursery. A gray-brown she-cat grabbed him by the scruff and hauled him back into the nursery.
"ThunderClan?" A red dappled she-cat glared at me from where she sat with a smaller pale-brown tom.
"Dovestar's let him join," Ryefrost explained.
"Dovestar let a ThunderClan flea-bag join? She must be losing her sanity," The red dappled she-cat padded off, and the smaller tom followed her.
"Don't worry," Ryefrost whispered to me, "They act like they're tough and hate other clans, but they'll come to like you."
Well that reassured me. I nodded and followed her to a bright ginger tabby tom.
"Runningfire, this is Badgerclaw." Ryefrost flicked her tail at me to signal.
"Badgerclaw?" Runningfire studied me, "I've heard of you at Gatherings. Mothstar and Lionstar have said that you're a powerful warrior, is it true?"
My pelt burned with embarrassment, I didn't know whether to say yes or no, but I just told the truth of what everyone else thought of me. "Yes. Most cats fear me, but I'm not always hostile to others, like they say."
"Good. Dovestar did mention that I would be training a cat, is it you?" Runningfire asked.
"Yeah, I think she mentioned you," I mewed.
"Cool, well, let's go start training I guess. Follow me." Runningfire bounded out of camp, and I followed him, leaving Ryefrost to do her own thing. His long legs carried him easily and quickly across the moorland, while my sturdy legs only slowed me down some. To my surprise, the feeling of the wind felt great instead of being trapped under thick branches and leaves and never seeing the sunshine clearly.
"This is where all the apprentices train." Runningfire stopped in a large clearing much like the one in ThunderClan. It was surrounded by grassy boulders and a large lookout rock hang overhead at the front.
I recognized the red dappled she-cat training with the pale-brown tom. Then there was a ginger tabby she-cat with Sparrowtalon.
"Those are my kits," Runningfire pointed out proudly, "The brown tom is Oakpaw and the ginger she-cat is Firepaw. There's a ginger tom too, his name is Thornpaw, but he must be out hunting with Flamefoot."
I nodded, but jealousy surged in me. Runningfire was lucky, he's been able to watch his kits grow, while I lied and left mine in ThunderClan. I'm a terrible cat.
"So what's first?" I asked.
"We'll teach you the battle skills of WindClan. It will be smart to remember your ThunderClan skills, as we may need those in battle one day if we happen to meet in the forest, so continue to practice those daily as well as new ones." Runningfire summoned the two other apprentices, and they gladly bounded over.
"We're going to practice tightly-packed fighting, which makes you look like a smaller battle patrol and will fool the enemy to make them think that you're outnumbered by them. So I want you three to pack together tightly as possible," Runningfire instructed.
I squeezed uncomfortably and awkwardly between the two apprentices. Meanwhile, Runningfire, Rosedapple, and Sparrowtalon formed into a mock-enemy patrol.
"Oakpaw, scoot in closer," Rosedappled ordered. Oakpaw pushed closer against me, and I felt extremely awkward.
"Firepaw's fine," Runningfire mewed, "Badgerclaw is as well, only if he wasn't so big and tall!"
"Now," Sparrowtalon cut in, "We're going to attack. We want you to defend using the right techniques."
Firepaw nodded, and Oakpaw mewed, I just stayed silent, unsure of what to do. Rosedapple let out a rallying yowl and the three mentors charged at us. Oakpaw and Firepaw stayed close to me, and we met the other team still tightly together. I gave Rosedapple a couple of good blows to let her remember that I'm not a cat to be messed with or be called a flea-bag.
"Okay, that was good," Sparrowtalon mewed., scrambling to his paws.
"You can go with your mentors now." Runningfire flicked his tail at his kits and then went back to me.
"Now, the next thing WindClan warriors like to use in battle is the sun."
"The sun?" I cocked my head in confusion.
"Yes." A glint of amusement appeared in Runningfire's green eyes, "We always keep our backs to the sun. Do you know why?"
"Because, doesn't the sun blind you?" Runningfire waited for my answer.
"Yes," I mewed.
"That's why. If you keep your back to the sun during a fight, your opponent will have to be facing the sun as well as you. Make sense?"
"Yes," I answered. Runningfire trotted out of the rocky-clearing, and I followed him, curious about what we would do next.
"I want to see how your hunting skills are," Runningfire mewed, "But don't scare off every rabbit you see."
I let out a meow of laughter, then went back to seriousness "Yes, Runningfire. I know how to catch prey."
Runningfire looked at me in both amusement and question, "But you've lived in the forest this whole time, not in the open moor."
"I know." Runningfire didn't answer, we just continued on into more barren, rolling hills. I heard thunder rumble above us, but the sky was not yet dark with rainclouds.
"Make this quick," Runningfire ordered, "Or all the rabbits and mice will be in the burrows by the time you reach them!" He crouched low into the tall grass, and pointed out a small rabbit munching on plants.
Instinctively, I dropped into a hunter's crouch, but was immediately corrected by a look from Runningfire.
"You don't stalk prey out here, you get as close as you need to, then break out in a full-sprint. Go try it." The bright ginger tabby tom nudged my shoulder to make me get a move-on, which annoyed me, but I remained silent.
I eyed the small, fawn-colored, furry creature and then after a few heartbeats of hesitating, I took off in the fastest run I could. My paws weren't silent, and startled my prey. The rabbit took off with a squeak of alarm.
"Mouse-dung!" I spat as I skidded to a halt.
"What are you doing?" Runningfire's yowl came from atop the hill I dashed from, "You could've chased it down!"
"Sorry!" I called back. I padded back up the hill to the other tom's side.
"Why should I be surprised?" Runningfire grunted to himself, "If a ThunderClan warrior switches to WindClan, they're not gonna be able to catch rabbits!"
"I can hear you know," I mewed.
"That wasn't meant for you. Let's go back to camp." Runningfire turned tail and sped off. I hared away after him, feeling the wind in my fur. I lost track of how many hills we crossed before Runningfire slowed down, and we weren't even near camp yet.
"What is it?" I asked, my nose twitching.
"ThunderClan." Runningfire padded off in the other direction, towards the west border. I tasted the air, catching ThunderClan cat scent in the flow, as well as fresh rainfall.
"I can fight em off!" I growled, flexing my claws. I had only been gone for a day, but that didn't matter, I could fight a ThunderClan warrior without hesitation.
"We're not fighting anybody until we find out what they want," Runningfire corrected.
I pouted, but continued on towards the border. Just as the stream came into sight, my worst fears came true.
"It's Frostwing!" I hissed under my breath.
"Frostwing?" Runningfire stopped and looked at me.
"She's my mother. Um...Let's just say we had a terrible falling out, and she wants to kill me still, probably." My paws ached to run away and never look back, but that wasn't being a warrior, that was being a coward.
We approached the ThunderClan patrol. There was Forestwhisker, Frostwing, Rainsong, Stormwhisker and Ashclaw. I walked directly behind Runningfire, nervous.
"We're here for Badgerclaw." I could hear Forestwhisker's commanding mew.
"Badgerclaw is with WindClan now. He left on his own terms, and Dovestar's let him join," Runningfire explained. I padded out beside Runningfire, waiting to see the shocked expressions on my family's face.
"Why did you leave?" Stormwhisker mewed sorrowfully.
"I had to," I replied.
"You just abandoned your kits and mate like that?" Frostwing looked at me like I had suddenly grown four heads.
"In case you didn't notice-" I snapped, "Mistfeather and I were never true mates. Hailkit, Nightkit and Wolfkit don't need me."
Runningfire tried to step beside me and interfere, but Forestwhisker got in his way, "This is their time to express their true feelings. Leave them be."
"Your kits do need you, Badgerclaw," Frostwing growled.
"I never needed you, what makes my kits any different?" I snarled.
"Badgerclaw, you do realize Frostwing tried to apologize for her mistakes, right?" Ashclaw mewed.
"You're not my problem," I hissed, "She is." I pointed with my tail at Frostwing.
"I never meant those things I said to you," Frostwing put in.
"Sure, and I never meant to be a warrior either," I growled sarcastically, "I wanted to be a medicine cat!" My fur began to bristle, "I remember everything you did and said to me, Frostwing. You're not my mother, as far as I'm concerned."
Rainsong and Stormwhisker gasped, and Ashclaw lashed his tail.
"You're nothing to me," I continued, "And everyone can see that your life's a lie. There's nowhere to hide."
Frostwing looked shocked and stunned by my words. By now, Stormwhisker was bristling, and Rainsong stared at me.
"Then I hope you're happy in WindClan!" She spat. The white she-cat sped off into the forest, leaving a cloud of mud in her wake.
"We'll never forget your words about us." Stormwhisker growled and followed after his mother. Rainsong just nodded to me and moved closer to Forestwhisker. Ashclaw hesitated for a moment before padding after his mate and son.
"Then the rest of ThunderClan wish you well, Badgerclaw." Forestwhisker dipped his head to me, "I hope you find many seasons of happiness and peace with WindClan." The large, pale-gray tabby tom bounded off into the forest, Rainsong at his heels.
"Well I guess that's that," I mewed to Runningfire.
"Yes. But Forestwhisker might send Lionstar, who knows? He is leader after all. Alright, let's go back to camp." I trudged after Runningfire, staring into the vast empty land before us.
My eyes scanned the camp for Ryefrost, who was nowhere to be found.
"You're Badgerclaw, right?" A dark gray tom with white paws and muzzle padded up to me.
"Yeah." My ear twitched.
"Cool. I'm Crowtalon, and I look forward to patrolling with you." Crowtalon dipped his head and then padded off to a white she-cat with black ears and tail-tip.
I was just about to head off to the fresh-kill pile when a patrol burst through the gorse entrance.
"Dovestar!" A ginger tom with darker paws called for his leader, "Dovestar!"
"What?" The pale-gray she-cat slid out of her den and bounded forward to meet the patrol. A smaller ginger tom paced beside the older one, and I guessed that was Thornpaw and Flamefoot.
"It's Beetlefang! We were patrolling, and-and-" Flamefoot was gasping for breath, as if he had been running for miles on end without a stop.
"Calm down, Flamefoot. Explain to me slowly what happened." Dovestar sat down in front of the ginger tom.
"Okay. We were patrolling and Beetlefang told us he scented twolegs. Well, we found twolegs and they took Beetlefang!" Flamefoot growled.
"What?" A light brown-and-white she-cat apprentice stood up, "Those filthy twolegs took my father?"
"I'm sorry, Heatherpaw," Flamefoot mewed, "He didn't leave without a fight though."
"They had a dog as well," A dusty-brown tabby tom added.
"Thanks for the info, Meadowpelt," Dovestar nodded at the tabby. "Now, I need my strongest warriors to go and find Beetlefang and rescue him."
"Can I go?" Heatherpaw looked at Dovestar hopefully.
"No, you're too young still. But Sunsplash, you can go." Dovestar pointed at a ginger-and-white she-cat who sat beside Heatherpaw.
"Crowtalon, Rabbitspring, Boulderclaw, Sparrowtalon, Runningfire, and..." Dovestar's gaze hung over me for a moment before she finally said, "-and Badgerclaw."
"Really?" I looked over at Dovestar.
"Yes. I'm relying on you, Badgerclaw. I've heard good things, and I'm trusting you. Now go!" Dovestar shooed off the cats she had called. Rabbitspring, who was patrol-leader, stopped and asked Flamefoot the location where Beetlefang was taken first before we set off.
I ran behind a large, gray tom who I guessed was Boulderclaw, since I already knew the others. Rabbitspring led us through the barren land, and soon enough, rain began to fall heavy. I hissed under my breath, wishing I hadn't been chosen to come.
"Okay," Rabbitspring started as he sniffed at Beetlefang's scent, "He was taken here, and most likely the twoleg went to Twolegplace. We'll check there first."
"Ugh, kittypets and twolegs!" Sparrowtalon muttered, "What fun this'll be!"
We reached the horse-place before I even knew it, and soon, Twolegplace was in sight. The grass was shortened here, which made me feel exposed and in-danger. A foul stenched flowed from Twolegplace, and I cringed my nose in disgust.
"Okay, be on your guard," Rabbitspring ordered, "Who knows what dangers there are here." We crept low to the ground, and I caught a whiff of dog scent.
"There's dog scent here," I mewed, "Maybe it's the dog Meadowpelt said was with the twoleg?"
"Possibly," Crowtalon nodded, "Should we check, Rabbitspring?"
Rabbitspring was silent for a few moments before we finally answered. "I guess, though it's not safe to follow a dog around. But Badgerclaw has a point." I followed the lithe, pale-brown tabby tom as a thunderpath blocked us.
Monsters flew by, making my fur blow and a stink fill the air. We crossed once it was clear, and I winced at the hot, black tar on the ground. I was so uncomfortable in Twolegplace. The ground was hard, there was no prey-scent, monsters, dogs and twolegs roamed about and kittypets were annoying.
"I see the dog!" Boulderclaw whispered as a large, brown-and-black dog snuffed around on the ground just up ahead.
"Badgerclaw, Crowtalon, watch out!" Rabbitspring screeched. His fur was bristled, and I whirled around to see what was behind me.
A female twoleg was directly behind Crowtalon and I. It's pink, furless paws were outstretched towards us, and it was coming at us, fast.
That's part 6! I feel like this was the lamest one, yet. I don't know why, I just do. Hope you enjoy if anybody reads it, and thank you for reading it!