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Book 1 of the Divided Sky Series
Preceded by:
none!
Nothing left Succeded by:
The Call of Darkness
The following story is rated Worse.
Essay
This page contains a fan fiction written by Mistysun.
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.

  • The original logo I made
  • I drew this of Hollypaw on paint.
  • A pic I drew of Darkpaw when she was looking for Hollypaw.
  • I'm very proud of this logo that I drew.

Authors note:

This is a story about Skyclan in the future. Be take in mind that I have not yet read Skyclan's Destiny, so while reading this story please pretend that the book Skyclan's Destiny never existed, okay? This takes place quite a while after Skyclan's Destiny though. Quite a while. Hope you enjoy it, thx! Btw: I have posted a few polls on the talk page, and I would really apreciate if, after reading this, you could vote on them, because it will help me while writing the story. If you want to contribute to the story, see my User Blog:Mistysun/Character help!yeah. --Halloweenness!!! I wish it was a word.... 21:10, October 15, 2010 (UTC)

Prolouge:

"Today, Smallwillow was captured by two-legs. They took her away in a cage. When I choose the next deputy, It's not that I don't think Smallwillow will come back, but just that I am making precautions." The words echoed around the clan, foreboding. Spoken by our muthless leader Stripestar. It was a lie. Behind all the kind words and sad looks, you could tell he wasn't sad all. He was happy. Like he couldn't ask for anything better than to have Smallwillow, the kind, resourcful she-cat taken away. It was common knowledge among all Skyclan cats that Stripestar despised Smallwillow. If it hadn't been for the promise he made Greystar, Smallwillow probably never would have became a warrior, let alone the deputy.

"From this day on, to if - I mean when- Smallwillow gets back, Crookedclaw will be the deputy." Stripestar smiled malisiously. "All cats must now proceed to bed." Crookedclaw smiled and bowed his head before he stepped up to his leader. We watched as he whispered something. Stripestar looked up, glaring, and saw all of Skyclan still gathered below. "I said all cat MUST go to bed!"
The den didn't feel right that night as I fell asleep. Like something was wrong. Something very wrong. As I tossed and turned, I got this feeling that the whole world was screaming. But there was silence. So silent it chilled me.

Chapter One:

My new mentor looked at me with such loathing I wanted to claw him. I didn't even know him, but by the looks of it, he knew me. He was, I hate to admit, a handsome cat, with a firey red pelt, and deep black eyes. His mucles rippled under his polished and shiny coat, and if it wasn't for the nasty snarl on his face, and the cold, hard glint in his eyes, he would have looked perfect. "Sooo... Darkpaw, I am Firewind. First, I want you to show me what Smallwillow taught you."

"Hello Firewind." I said, nodding my head in greeting, trying not to sound angry."Here's one of the first hunting skills I learned," I tried my hardest to sound sincere and nice. I decided I would try to impress him with my hunting techniques. I jumped up into the air, landing on a tree branch. I then jumped higher, snatching a fat sparrow out of the air. I had been told before that I had the Skyclan ancestors' blood in me.

Firewind did not look impressed. "That sparrow was an easy catch. Even cats without jumping skills could have caught it." He smirked.

Anger prickled up into me but I fought to keep it down. "Well, then there's this," I said, and started slowly creeping forward toward where I smelled a mouse. I swiftly killed it after a few seconds of stalking.

"That was a good skill, but you executed it horribly and took forever to get the mouse,"

I gritted my teeth. Did Stripestar give Firewind specific orders to hate me or what? "And then there's this!!!" I hissed, and sprang on top of my menor, digging my claws into his chest.

"Get of me you piece of mouse-dung!!" He yowled. I carefully stepped off him and sheathed my claws. "We're reporting this to Stripestar... now," He added, as he saw I wasn't coming.

I missed Smallwillow, one of the only cats who understood me. ..........................................................................................................................................................................................

I sat on the cold hard floor of the punishment den, mindlessly licking my paws, even though they were already clean. The punishment den was a rather new addition to the clan. Originally, all the dens (Warriors den, Nursery, apprentice den, elders den, leaders den) had all been in the rock caves up above me. But the medicine den was made below, on the ground. Stripestar had the idea that the punishment den should be rock, so the nursery was moved to the ground and the punishment den took it's place. Large rocks Strpiestar had placed here himself divded the den into four sections, so that if there were multiple cats to be punished, they wouldn't have anyone to talk to. Overall, I thought it was a good way to keep cats in line, but when I was actually in the den itself, I begain to re-think that.

Currently, my sister Hollypaw and I were the only cats in here. Hollypaw had protested about me being punished, and had landed herself a spot here too. Guilt crept up into me. It was my fault Hollypaw was here.

"Holly? You there?" I called over the rocks that seperated us, hoping she could hear me. "Hollyyyyyyy????????"

I could faintly hear the words "What is it?" snapped at me.

"I'm sorry. About...everything. I just, ummm, lost my temper, that's all. I really am sorry."

"Darkpaw, everyone was upset about Smallwillow, but do you see us scratcing up warriors because of it? No. And don't try to apologize. It's my fault I'm here. Now please leave me alone. I'm trying to sleep."

I sighed. "Smallwillow wasn't just the deputy to me, she was my friend and mentor. You know that. And, anyway, I'm sure you would have attacked Firewind too if he had acted like that to you,"

I waited, leaning forward to hear Hollypaw's reply, but none came. I tried to settle down and get comfortable on the hard, cold rock floor, but the more I tossed and turned, the more restless and wide-awake I became. It would be a long night.

Chapter Two:

"Ewwww..... Yuck. This is disgusting." I took anther tentitave step on the mud, then quickly hopped off onto a nearby stone. "Something bit me! I am so not going back in there,"

I begain to clean my mud-caked tail in slow, shuddering licks. A fly buzzed near my ear, and I swatted it to the ground. Flys were everywhere, though, and it was hard to drive away them all. I was in the swamp, which was basically a breeding ground for flys, frogs, and the occasional rat. The mudmy chin. was up past my belly, and it stinked. Scraggly trees hung down along the bank. This was where all Skyclan apprentices had to go on the eighth moon of their life. I envied the cats who were apprentices before the age of graduating into a warrior was increase two moons, because along with the increase of graduating age came this. It's yet another of Stripestar's crazy ideas. It's mean to be "Good skills for life" and "Character building" and fox-dung stuff like that. Mainly I think Stripestar just created it to tourture apprentices. I've dreaded it my whole life. I'd always seen shivering, mud-caked, flea-bitten apprentices coming back from this, and I wasn't too fond of the idea.

"Hurry up Darkpaw! Why are you lounging around like that?" Firewind was marching up the bank- warriors don't have to go in the swamp- looking annoyed.

"Nothing, sorry Firewind." I said quckly, and got up, racing through the muck, hoping that I could ignore it that way. I leaped across a large pool of mud, trying to reach the rock on the other side. Squelch. I landed in the muck. Iwas up to my chin in the foul stuff. I moaned.

Brookpaw landed on the rock in front of me, laughing. "Having fun?" She asked, smiling.

"Yes, the time of my life, in fact," I mewd sarcastically back. I choked on the mud."Umm, a little help here?" I asked.

Brookpaw, still laughing, leaned down and dragged me up onto the rock. "There. That better?" She absently licked her spotless fur.

"Why aren't you dripping in mud like the rest of us?" I tried to keep the jealousy and bitterness out of my voice, but Brookpaw sensed it. She scowled and hopped to another rock, leaving me alone.

Brookpaw was the favorite of the mentors. Despite that fact that she was a little weak, and always sneezing due to the fact that she caught pneomia as a small kit, she was obidient and nver complained. She was nice almost all the time, and never seemed to get the worst of things Besides all that, she was quite pretty, a white tabby with light grey stripes. "Where's Hollypaw, Swanpaw, and Littlepaw?" I asked Brookpaw.

"I think Holly's up ahead, and Swanpaw and Littlepaw are behind." Brookpaw leaped to another rock. Now she was a good distance away. I tried jumping to the next rock, and landed instead on a lilypad in front of the rock, and just managed to claw my way up before the lilypad sunk. Seriously, this swamp was stupid. I swatted as a circle of files begain to crowd around me.

As the day wore on, I continued jumping. To one rock, then the next, and next. I wasn't really paying much attention. My legs begain to tire, my joints ached, and I was starving. I looked around for the next rock to jump on, but there wasn't one. Stretched in front of me was a greenish mud pit. Great. Just great. "Brookpaw?" I called, hoping she wasn't far off and maybe she could tell me how to get around the pit. No one answered. "Hollypaw? Littlepaw? Swanpaw?" I called out. Silence. "Firewind?" Much as I hated it, I was willing to ask my loathesome mentor for help. "Specklefur?" That was the other mentor who had came with us. I sat down in defeat, admitting that there was nobody near me and I would have to figure out my own solution. Think, I told myself. All I could come up with was that I would have to swim across the mud. Not the most pleasurable thing to do.

I closed my eyes, and jumped into the mud. A sickly stench filled my nose, and foul-tasting mud flowed into my mouth. It was depp- I couldn't feel the bottom. It kind of dragged me in, sucking me. I spluttered and gasped for air. The world started spinning. I tried once again to pull myself up, back onto the rock, but I was stuck. Mud filled my vision, my mouth, pouring into my lungs, swalloing me up, sucking me down. Everything was spinning, and I was yelling, but my voice was fading slowly, slowly, I was choking, and my last thought was this is it. I'm Dying. I'm dead.

Chapter Three:

I woke up screaming. Well, I assumed I was screaming, because Frostberry stood there, telling me that it would be okay, and to calm down, to be quiet. And there was some weird echoing yell that seemed to be coming from me.

Frostberry was the medicine cat. He was a kindly old tom, who was easily the age of an elder. "Wha...?" I said, bewildered, and watched as sunlight danced over me, "Frostberry? Is that you? Where am I?" The long run-on of petty questions came pouring out of me. I felt disoriented and and lethargic.

"You're in the medicine den," Frostberry told me, "And yes, It's me. I'm Frostberry. You had a bit of a....um, well, accident when you were at the swamp. You seemed to have lost your way in the swamp, and had fallen into some pit of mud and drowned. It was lucky Firewind found you when he did, or you would have been in Starclan right now." He closed his eyes and sighed. "I never thought sending such young cats down to the swamp was a good idea, and I was right, wasn't I?"

As he spoke, the confusion lifted like a fog, and I could recall the mud, swirling around me, sucking me in. It sent a shiver down my back. But surely, by the time Firewind found me, I would have been dead? Firewind... Why had he saved me, why didn't he leave me to die...It didn't make sense. Nothing made sense. All I wanted was to see Hollypaw and my mother, tell them I was okay, feel their soft purr. I got up. I was unsteady on my feet, but I managed to totter towards the entrance before Frostberry caught sight of me and orded me back to my nest.

"You're really not well enough to leave yet Darkpaw," He told me, "Why do you want to go anyway?"

"I...I just wanted to, well, see my family..-" I stopped when I saw his expression. "What?" I asked nervously, "What!? What is it?" I asked frantically.

"Nothing, it- it doesn't matter," Frostberry said.

"What!? I have the right to know about my own family, about something that happened."

"It might not be good for you to be surprised." He said haltingly.

"Tell me!!!" I shouted, flushed with anger and worry. "If something happened to them I should know!"

Frostberry just shook his head and padded out. I felt broken. Softstep- my mother, or Hollypaw could be hurt! Then I realized that if they were hurt they would be in the medicine den with me. But they couldn't be...that meant...I couldn't even bear to think about it. Mabye, hopefully, they had just gone missing, and would be back in a few days. Maybe nothing had actually happened to them at all! I forced myself to think that the rest of the day, as I walked aimlessly around the den in circles. Near the end of the day, a shout rang out across the clearing, "May all cats old enough to catch their own prey come for a clan meeting!" I jumped up and rushed outside. Frostberry was there, shaking like a leaf as he lead me to the center of camp. He seemed nervous, as if something bad was about to happen. Maybe something already has happened, I reazlized.

"Frostberry?" I asked, "How long had I been asleep for?"

"Oh, that doesn't matter," He said quickly, looking the other direction, I sensed he wasn't paying attention right now. "A few sunrises, I don't know...You woke up for a few seconds quite a lot, but I don't really count that as waking." A few sunrises!? A few meant any number between the rage of three to five! But I didn't have time to think about it any longer, because Stripestar was begining to speak:

"We gather here tonight because of something you might want to know. With it, in a way, comes a new rule. Things, if you haven't already noticed, have been becomeing a lot stricter, but, of course, this is all for your own good. Now...Four sunrises ago, five of our apprentices went to the swamp, as all apprentices do." I held my breath, knowing what was coming next, and wondering why was he telling us? "One of the apprentices got, well, lost, and ended up almost drowning in mud. She was found just in time to be saved, yet she is still needing to stay in the medicine den. When the word spread about what had happened to this young cat, many cats thought it their buisness to complain about the harshness of our teaching. They didn't want me to keep sending apprentices to the swamp. Now, what did I tell them? I said that they should never again contradict or speak in vain about any of our practices. If you do, there will be consiquences." He stared down at us with hard, cold eyes. "All cats must now proceed to bed....except... except Darkpaw. Darkpaw stays."

Chapter Four:

I couldn't move. I felt rooted to the ground, pluse beating faster and faster, helpless, a tiny speck. I was confused, worried, a mix of emotions swirling crazily inside me. I felt dizzy, light-headed. Stripestar wanted me to stay. Why!? I looked over at Frostberry, but all I saw was my own confuson reflected. But Frostberry seemed not only confused, but scared. Fear radiated off him.I didn't know why I was still standing here speechless, why the rest of the clan were staring at me. I had lost my train of thought, nothing made sense. I felt my body tense, felt the panick rise in my chest. Then Stripestar stepped forward. Instanly all the cats ran to their dens. I remembered. He wanted me to stay.

"You too Frostberry," Stripestar said calmly. "I said Darkpaw stays. Not Darkpaw and the medicine cat. Not Darkpaw and Frostberry." he laughed. It was a cold laugh, and it set a shiver down my spine. Frostberry nodded and quickly turned and as clamly as he could, walked back to the medicine den. I was alone now with Stripestar. And I suddnely begain to understand why Frostberry had been afraid. I was the apprentice who had caused the complains. The apprentice who was so foolish that she had almost killed herself. Stripestar could do anything to me, and there would be no on to stop him. But Stripestar didn't look angry. He was smiling. "I'm not going to hurt you, Darkpaw," He said cooly, as if reading my mind, "You may turn out to be a good warrior. I wouldn't waste someone's life so young. I decided that killing you wouldn't teach you a lesson. But you are punished. Someone has died because of your actions. Someone less useful. It will be a lesson to all of the clan, especially to you. Take this as a warning Darkpaw. I was going to kill her in front of you, but I came to the conclusion that doing that would be a bit too cruel." He smiled and turned away. I knew he wanted me to ask who he had killed, and I didn't want to satisfact him like that, but I needed to know. Who was it? Hollypaw? I wasn't even sad, because I was too preoccupied about who died because of me.

"Stripestar? Who was it? Please tell me..." I knew he would tell me, but I still begged.

His eyes glinted as he replyed, "My dear Darkpaw, didn't you wonder why your mother Softstep wasn't waiting for you to wake up? Why she wasn't standing over you, begging for your safety? I think yu can figure it out..." He laughed. "Now, off to bed. And, I think you can leave Frostberry to cope on your own now." It was like a blow to my stomach. I gasped for air, drawing in huge ragged breaths. How could I have been so stupid? Why hadn't I put two and two together? And now...now my poor mother was gone. I stood there, not moving, not daring to, until I remembered I was meant to go to bed. I headed to the medicine den, then stopped. Stripestar wanted me to go with the apprentices. That wasn't too bad either. I could see Hollypaw. The thought even managed to cheer me a little as I climbed the path the the apprentice cave. But when I entered, everything went wrong.

I was thinking of just quietly slipping in, laying down next to Hollypaw, and falling asleep, but that didn't work out, because Hollypaw spotted me first. Quite a few of the apprentices were asleep, but I could hear two of the older cats talking quietly in the very back of the den, and Littlepaw turning restlessy on her nest. Hollypaw was curled up, and looked asleep, apart from the fact that her eyes were wide open. She followed me with her gaze as I looked around for her, and walked over, then sat down next to her. She didn't speak until I curled up next to her, and then she jumped up.

"It's all your fault!" She yelled, her eyes blazing, "All your stupid mouse-brained fault!"

I was shocked. I thought Hollypaw would be glad to see me, as I was glad to see her. "Calm down Holly..." I said, not knowing what else to do, "What's my fault?"

"That she's dead! You basically killed her!"

I finally got it. And instead of defending myself, I saw she was true. And it me even more miserable, "I know..." I whispered.

"Do you know how much I miss her?! I watched Stripestar kill her, and I was helpless. Do you know how much that hurt? If you had just thought for a moment in that swap, she would have still been here today! You never think about anybody but yourself Darkpaw! Never! Just like that day when you scratched up Firewind! You never thought!" A lot of the apprentices were awake by now, looking at us, staring at u. I saw some looks of pure hatrid directed at me. I just made me mad.

"You weren't the only one to lose her mother, Holly! I was drowning! I almost died! Of couse I didn't want to hurt her Holly! Of course I didn't! Do you think I feel good about being the cause Softstep died! NO! And I come back to find my only living family member, who I wanted to see so badly, now hates me! How do you think I feel Holly? I don't want to fight..." My words drifted away. "Goodnight, I'm going to bed," I said sharply, and turned over on my side, blocking out everything. This couldn't be happening...

Chapter Five:

The next few days passed in confusion. I was surprised to find that Firewind was taking it easier on me, even if it was just a bit easier, a feat I thought impossibe for him. Even so, I found myself sometimes having emotional break downs of hysterics. Frostberry often came to 'check up' on me, and he told me what I had been experiencing was only natural for someone who had just lost their mother, and would go away soon. All through this, sothing kept nagging me, something in the back of my head, that I couldn't quite place. At first I though the fact the Hollypaw and I hadn't talked since our argument was the thing bugging me, but it didn't seem right. One morning when I was walking through the clearing, it struck me like a wave. What all the clan had already knew. They got the message right away, since they weren't distracted by other things. But with me, mourning my mother and still not fully recovered from my near-death experience, it took me longer to figure it out.

Stripestar hadn't just killed my mother to punish me, but for another reason too. To tell the clan who was boss,and what could happen if you ever question that. He was trying to terrify them, so no one would ever again step out of line. It was a warning- That Skyclan is changing. It's no longer a clan, it's a prision. And Stripestar's no longer leader, he's ruler.

I mulled over this all day, and the more I thought abouti, the more it made sense in some parts, and just got more confusing in other parts. I got injured when me and Swanpaw were having a practice battle since I wasn't paying any attention, and after a few more mishaps, the mentors went to fetch Frostberry. I was still angry at Frostberry for not telling me sooner that Softstep had been killed, but I understand why he kept it from me. And I didn't hesitate to tell him what I had found out. Frostberry just shook his head and looked nervosly around when I finhsed speaking."Darkpaw..." He begain uncertainly, "Stripestar did mean for the clan to get that message. But he didn't mean for everyone to go talking about it. next time, I advise you keep things like that to yourself. Of couse, you can't be blamed, in the fragile state you're in..." he went to mettering as he walked back to camp with me, though I didn't catch any of his words. "Listen, Darkpaw, why don't you just head back to the apprentice den, maybe clean the elders den or something, okay?"

"Yeah, okay..." I sighed. I climbed the rough path to my den, and stepped inside.

"Well, if it isn't Darkpaw." Someone smirked. I whirled around, and found myself staring into Snakepaw's eyes. I backed away.

"What are you doing here then? Think maybe you're too fragile to be here?" He laughed.

Oh no. This is what I had been dreading. Snakepaw was the bully of all the apprentices, and the oldest one. He skipped training so many times that even at nine moons he's not even close to becoming a warrior. He a a small group that follows him around everywhere, and whenever they get a chance, bully people. I thought he was going to skip me since he hadn't bothered me so far. I guess I wasn't that lucky. "No, I'm....I'm....getting something," It was the lamest possible excuse ever, but it seemed to fool Snakepaw. Well, a bit.

"Oh. Really? Because I thought you might have to....rest," He laughed, and so did the rest of his group.

"Leave me alone!" I shouted, and turned away.

"Hollypaw's not here to help you this time, isn't that right." He was refering to the other time he was teasing me. I had become an apprentice two days ago, and I was the only one out of all the newcomers who still couldn'thunt. Snkaepaw was teasing me about it, and I was curled up in a ball, mortifyed and extremly humiliated. Hollypaw, who had caught four mice already, had found out and yelled at Snakepaw forever. When he still didn't stop, she practically clawed him to peces. He hasn't bother us since, until now it seems.

"If you want I can go get her," I threatened.

"But haven't you heard? She's your own sister and all, I would think someone would tell you."

Chapter Six:

"What?" I demanded, "What happened to Hollypaw?"

"Oh, you know, stuff. She ran away, and Stripestar sent Crookedclaw and a few others out looking for her. Who knows what they might do to her when the find her?" Snakepaw grinned. "I wanted to help but they wouldn't let me."

My mind was whirling. Hollypaw! I had to find her before Crookedclaw did! I jumped up to leave, then something struck me. She...she left me. All alone, with no one. We had never had a father, and our mother was dead, and we needed each other. Or did we? When was the last time we had talked to eachother, or laughed together? Not very recenly, that's for sure. But still, she had left me. At first I stood rooted to the spot, not wanting to help anybody that cruel to me. Then I jumped up, not knowing what I was doing, but that I needed Hollypaw to stay with me. I ran like lightning out into the clearing, then out of camp, into the trees. No one stopped me. I didn't know where Hollypaw would go, so I tried to think like her, which wasn't too hard, but not too easy either. I found myself aimlessy wandering around the woods, softly calling for her, since I didn't want Crookedclaw to find me here. When night struck, and a big glowing cresent moon hung in the sky, I finally gave up, dragging myself wearily back to camp. I made a silent prayer to Starclan that she wasn't back at camp, being punihed in some horrible way.

I turned around sharply. Someone was there.Crack. That sounded like a stick breaking. "Holly?" I whispered, but I knew it wasn't her. "Holly?" A black shape came out of the bushes. Bright glowing eyes, claws glinting in the moonlight. I didn't give the cat a chance to get closer before I was sprinting through the woods, trying to get away. Prickers clawed at my legs, but I could barley feel them. All I wanted was to get away from it. The cat. When I arrived in the camp, I was dripping in sweat and completly exausted. All I wanted to do was collapse in my mossy nest in the apprentice den. But the whole cat was gathered in the clearing.

"We've been waiting for you, Darkpaw." A low voice said. Stripestar stepped down. Thanks to Snakepaw we got the information that you had gone into the woods searching for you dear sister Hollypaw. Such a pity you didn't find her...How shall I punish you this time? Lets see, mayb-"

"What!?" I spluttered, cutting him off, "You can not punish me for looking for your sister! I was only trying to help!"

"My dear Darkpaw, don't you see?" He asked.

"Your sister ran away. You tried to find her. You knew you weren't meant to. You knew that you and Hollypaw had both broken the rules. And yet you went to find her anyway. I think that deserves a punishment, don't you? But maybe...I'll go easy n you. You had a death in the family, so you might be menatlly unstable. Now, get some rest," At once the whole clan stood up. Anger was churning inside of me, threatening to unleash itself on Stripestar. I fought to keep it under control. How dare he said I had a 'death in the family' and I was 'Mentally unstable'. He killed Softstep, he killed my mother!

When I entered to apprentice den, I was seething. "I hate Stripestar!" I said bitterly. "I hate him!" I was yelling now, my eyes misting up, "I hate him! He's a dirty pice of fox-dung!"

I looked up. Everyone was staring at me, horrified.

Chapter Seven:

"What...?" I asked backing away. A few of the apprentices stepped forward, as if in a trance, "What is it?" I asked nervously.

"You contradicted Stripestar. You broke the rules. Do you know whatthe punishment is?" Brookpaw was staring blankly at me, as she said these words. Her eyes looked hollow and cold.

"Stripestar won't know..." I said, but I wasn't sure.

"He will. He has spies everywhere. The might even be one among us." She looked over at the crowd of apprentices.

Other cats were whispering quietly now, all staring at me. One shouted, "Stripestar might punish us too!"

That was followed by an angry courus of shouts. I felt crushed, like every little piece of happiness was being drained from the world. Why did everyone suddely hate me? What was going on? I slumped to my little corner where I had been sleeping the past few nights, only to hear another shout ring out "We have to stop her! Seh's a threat to us! We don't want to get punished for things she does!" Almost all the apprentices hurled themselves at me. Claws stuck into my skin, teeth grabbed my neck.

Every bit of hope drained out of my body. They would kill me, and I would be gone forever. So what? There's nothing left I cared about, why shoudln't I die? But I don't want to die! Skyclan needs me. But they're tring to kill me! Of course they don't need me! A raging battle was going on inside my head, and I wanted to yell it out to everyone. But then something else struck me. The Skyclan cats were slowly being driven insane. How long had it been going on? Since Stripestar was leader? After? Before? That was beside the fact. These cats are scared of Stripestar, they're doing anything just to survive. Skyclan is at it's biggest ever this season, with more cats than it can handle, especially appentices, because wit the new law we have a wider age of cats. And I didn't want to die. I wanted to live to become a warrior, then an elder. I wanted to maybe have kits someday, too.

The fog cleared from my mind. "Help!" I yelled, "Somebody, help me!" When no one came to my aid, I started trying to convince them to stop, "I'm your friend, I'm an apprentice, just like you!" I saw a familiar cat jump onto me. "Brookpaw! Please...don't" For a moment me and Brookpaw lockeed eyes. Then the second was gone, but I was sure she didn't want to do this. Just eight, or something like that, sunrises ago, she had pulled me out of the mud. We were laughing together. Now she wanted to kill me. The true meaning of this situation hit me. And it stung. "Stop!" I pleaded. It was all I could do to keep them off me. One of the oldest cats, Blackpaw, launched himself at me. I felt teeth sink into my neck, everything got fuzzy, and just when I thought I would pass out, Blackpaw was flung off me. It was Firewind.

........................................................................................................................................................................................

"What...How?" I spluttered, "How did you- why did you save me?" I was in the medicine den. Frostberry was applying some mixture to my many wounds, and Firewind was sitting across from me.

"Darkpaw..." He said, and his voice was filled with cold amusement. I be just then he was thinking how foolish I was. "I wouldn't just let my apprentice die, would I? I didn't let you die before." He caught my look, and laughed, "No, not becuase I don't completly despise you. I do. I rescued you because it would be a mark or a bad warrior if I just let my apprentice die. You're my responsibility. That's why I went back looking for you in the swamp. Who knows what others would have thought about me?" He laughed again, but it was a cold, hard laugh. "It's my duty to protect you."

All my gratitue vanished. To tell you the truth, I would have liked to claw him again that moment, "So you only saved me to keep your reputation high? That's pathetic."

He glared down at me. "I don't appreciate comments like that." He studied me for a long while before replying, "By the way, Crookedclaw's dead. Greycloud brought his body back just before you left the woods,"

"What!?!?" I gasped, staring up at him "How!? Who's the new deputy?"

Firestar grinned, " That's none of your busness," He smiled at my outraged expression.I looked to Frostberry, but he merly shook his head sadly.

Chapter Eight:

When I was little, me, Hollykit, and sometimes other kits would listen to stories the elders made up. One of the stories they told was about a kit, Cloudykit, that nobody liked because she was so small and shy. The only one who talked to her was her mother. I rememberd wondering how bad that must feel, and decided it ould be pretty bad.

It's not just pretty bad. It's horrible. With some things, you can't understand how bad it really is unless it actually happens to you. With none of the apprentices talking to me, no sister, and no mother, it was horrible.

No, not horrible. Terrible.

Anyway...When I found out that Snakepaw had become deputy, I was astounded. Apparently, after he told Stripestar that I had gone looking for Hollypaw, he then had a great hunting session, and was made a warrior, Snakejaw. I suppose Stripestar thought that all deputys needed an evil-ish name. Well, Snakejaw deserved it. Stripestar was going to choose Firewind for deputy, but he settled on Snakejaw in the end.

"Darkpaw,"

"What?" I looked up. I was trying to get some sleep in the apprentice den, so no one would have spoken to me, the cat in her own little corner, who everybody tried to kill. But somebody had definetly spoken my name.

"It-...It's me....Brookpaw..."

Sure enough, I could just make out her form in the dim light. "Go away. You tried to kill me. I dn't want to talk to you," I said, and turned around, trying to ignore her. But the truth was, I was happy Brookpaw was talking to me. I didn't want her to go. In the gloom, I could see hurt reflected in Brookpaw's face. I shifted uncomfortably. I shouldn't feel guilty. I told myself, Brookpaw deserves to be ignored like you were, But eventually I wung around and stood up to face her.

"I'm sorry about...everything," She said sincerly. "I really am. But, I just wanted to tell you, I'm...I'm leaving. Running awy. Like Hollypaw did."

The words flew out of my mouth before I could stop them, "NO! You can't go...." I trailed off. "I just...you're the only one I have left!" I realized it was true. She was it. Brookpaw couldn't leave...

"Then come with me," It was a samll remark. Brookpaw said it just like she would say, "It's sunny today," But what she said meant a lot more.

"I can't go." I said automatically.

Brookpaw looked confused, "Why not? I'd think you'd want to leave,"

"I just.....can't. And you can't either," I didn't know why I was saying that, but the words were coming without me thinking about them. "Skyclan can't fall apart like it did so long ago. We have to stay together," What?! What I had just said didn't make any sense, not even to me, and I had said it!

Brookpaw sighed. "I'm sorry Darkpaw. I have to go," She shook her head. Then I remembered the thing in the woods. Had it killed Crookedclaw?

"Just, don't go into the woods," I told her about it, and fear shone on her face.

"I won't. I'll....be fine," I coldn't help thinking that she didn't even sound sure herself. "Goodbye Darkpaw," And she walked out of the apprentice den, into the night.

Chapter Nine:

I was so startled, I nearly ran after Brookpaw. But I just sat there, watching her go sadly. I'd lost my mother, my sister, nobody was talking to me, I had been punsihed countless times, and now my only remaining friend was gone, too. What more could go wrong? Lots. Because, suddenly, there was a screech. Brookpaw. I knew it before I saw her. Someone had got her. Who? How? My mind whirled, and I had one second to decide what I would do next. Save Brookpaw, and possibly get us both into more trouble, or not?

I ran outside just in time to see Snakejaw dragging Brookpaw to Stripestar's den. My heart thudded. I had to do something! I slipped down quietly, following Snakejaw without being seen. I stepped on a rock, and it tumbled down and hit Snakejaw's heel. I held my breath. He turned around and peered suspiciously, but didn't see me. I let a sigh of relief escape me. Snakejaw reached Stripestar's den, and pulled back the hanging moss to see inside. "Stripestar?" He called.

There was a growl and Stripestar walked out. "Snakejaw..." He snarled, "Why did you disturb me? That's against the laws you know,"

Snakejaw looked terrified,"I'm, I'm sorry Stripestar," He bowed, "I caught this apprentice sneeking out, though. I thought you might want to deal with her," He pushed Brookpaw forward. I could see her shaking with fear.

"Very well, Sankejaw." Stripestar said, nodding curtly, "I'll let you go this time, but when you disturb me next, it may be the last thing you do," Snakejaw nodded, and scampered off as fast as he could. "Brookpaw...." He said, turning his attention to her, "Now may I ask what you were doing sneaking out in the middle of the night? I didn't think I could have made it more clear that doing that was forbidden, and had extreme conciquences?" He glared at her, "Now, before I decide your fate, may I ask why you left your den? And no lying, or you'll come off even worse,"

Brookpaw looked up at him with terrifyed eyes. She was shaking all over. "I-I...I was...." I wanted to yell at her not to tell the truth, but too late, "I was.......ru-running a-away. I'm so-sorry....Really." She looked like she was going to faint with terror.

Stripestar looked down at her, "Dear Brookpaw, the punishment for leaving the den is exile. Do you know what the punishment for running away is?" She shook her head. "It's death." Stripestar let the words sink in before laughing. "Why don't we get it over with right now?"

Brookpaw squealed like a kit. I could only imagine what she was thinking. But I knew I couldn't let Stripestar kill her. I had to do something, and the first thing that came to mind was this. "Stop!" I yelled, bounding into view. I stood over Brookpaw potectivly.

Stripestar looked only mildly surprised. "And may I ask what might you be doing Darkpaw?"

Part of me was saying to stop being so heroic and run. But the other part of me overpowered it quickly. I took a shaky step forward, and looked Stripestar straight in the ey. "You- you can't kill her," I said, trying to sound brave, but my voice was quivering. "You can't."

Stripestar grinned nastily, "And who's to stop me from killing her Darkpaw? You? A small apprentice? I don't think so..." He seemed to be thinking hard, "Actually, Darkpaw, I won't kill Brookpaw," I stared at him, "You will,"

No....no... I couldn't. Stripestar had thought of a way to make everything worse. In a way, he was killing two birds with one stone by punishing me like this and giving Brookpaw a death sentence. He knew I couldn't- I wouldn't kill Brookpaw.

Chapter Ten:

"Well Darkpaw?" Stripestar asked, "I'm waiting. And if you don't, you'll die too."

That was a tough desicion. Kill Brookpaw and never forgive myself, or let Stripestar kill us both? Well, Brookpaw had tried to kill me, so if I killed her, wouldn't it be fair? Killing someone, even by force is never fair though. If Stripestar killed us both, we would be together in Starclan. But then I would never be able to see if Hollpaw made it, or if Skyclan ever got rid of Stripestar. Why didn't someone just kill Stripestar anyway? Why didn't I? I didn't know. Then I realized, I was afraid. Maybe everyone else was afraid, too. But that was besides the point. Time was ticking. I had to make my choice about killing Brookpaw. I looked down at her.

"Please..." She mouthed. Her eyes were filled with fear. I didn't know what she wanted me to do. But wouldn't anyone be happier going to Starclan with a friend, their last moment not having someone they trusted kill and betray them? I would definetly rather that. But if I was going to die anyway, I'd probably not want someone else to also die.

My mother had died because of me. I had been the cause of her death. I didn't want someone else to die because of me. But I didn't want to die either.

"Darkpaw!" Stripestar said sharply. He glared at me.

I needed to decide. Now. I looked from Stripestar's evil face, to Brookpaw's terrifyed one, and came to the desicion I knew, deep down, I was always going to make.

"I'm sorry Brookpaw," I whispered, and leaned down. Her eyes misting up, and I realized mine were too. My heart felt like it was being ripped up. Close your eyes. Imagine she's a mouse. Just get over with it. I wanted to scream.

"One thing," Brookpaw whispered so quietly and hoarsly I had to bend down to hear it, "Kill Stripestar for me will you?"

"I will. I promise. I'm sorry about this," I said again, "I really am," and my throat choked up. "Goodbye Brookpaw."


The End!!! The next book is The Call of Darkness ! Thank you for reading!

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