It was a moon ago.
The Rogue padded into our camp with his brutes.
"We've taken all the other clans' camps, and we saved the best for last. You idiots! You should've left when we gave you the chance!"
Then they attacked. Cats dead and permanently injured.
Our clan has been reduced to just more than half of it's previous members.
Those cats died for nothing. We've still been enslaved.
Elkstar is no longer a "Star"
He's been reduced to his former self, Elkheart.
He says there's still hope, because he still has seven of his nine lives.
"Cats of ShadowClan, we can stage a mutiny! I still have seven lives!"
We, ShadowClan shouted back. Shut our leader down.
"We lost more than nine cats in the battle! They were all fighting at the same time!"
Hope is lost, at this point. Except for a few select cats.
The Medicine cats have had all their herbs taken.
They are just waiting for a message from our Warrior ancestors.
They made us all live in our own camps, along with seven or eight wolves. Four clans feels like two, now.
We've been slaves for a moon.
They nearly starve us. One serving a day.
The only thing Starclan has said is that there is a way...
Chapter One - Lyric
Gaunt with hunger, Starkshock's limbs ached as she was roughly shoved awake by one of the wolves.
She was the leader's slave, his personal helper.
She was fed more than the others, but also abused more. Deep cuts crisscrossed her flank, the fur around them permanently matted and stained with thick crimson liquid.
She flicked her ear, then winced. She kept forgetting about the "taboo", the rite of passage that all slaves had to take, the piercing of her ear with a pointed bone.
Blood trickled from the wound, and a curved rib from a vole hung lightly from her left ear.
WIth a resigned wince, she padded into the former WindClan leader's den, head low.
The alpha wolf was the only one who spoke cat, and therefore the one who could most torture Starkshock.
"Hello," He sneered, lips curling into a smiling grimace.
She said nothing, having been taught not to respond.
"Clean up." He snarled dismissively, flicking his tail in the direction of an elk carcass. It had the same patterns as Elkstar - Elkheart - and it's eyes were the same hue of brown.
Starkshock's eyes widened, and she wondered hopelessly if it was an omen, but an omen of doom for Elkheart.
When the leader snarled, she jumped and hurred forward, slowly dragging it out of the den, as the elk was at least ten times her size.
Once she had returned, the leader gave her a series of commands which she followed to the absolute last, not wishing to receive another beating.
"You're soft," The alpha wolf grunted, black eyes narrowed. Starkshock froze, blood turning to ice. She didn't know how much longer she could- "But efficient." The wolf interrupted her thoughts.
She cocked her head in confusion.
"You're one of my favorites," The wolf continued, tongue falling out of his jaw. "And so I'll allow it."
She dipped her head, breathing a sigh of relief. "Thank you... master." She muttered, backing out of the den.
As soon as she was clear, she padded back into the warrior's den, looking around for Hawkeye.
And then she remembered.
Hawkeye had been the first to die at the alpha's paws.
Chapter Two - Stone
Toadpelt didn’t do much these days.
He, just like the other cats, mourned endlessly for their fallen clanmates.
The Alpha called him in.
“Toad! Come here.”
He had either shortened the cats names to the prefix, or given them a completely different name.
When Toadpelt arrived in the den, the Alpha unexpectedly took out his “earpiece” and shoved it in a different spot in his ear.
He screamed in agony.
“Toad cat catch me five prey now. Any less, he gets a claw out.”
Toadpelt hung his head, whole body shaking at the thought of that.
Normally, he would’ve asked for Whitenose to come with...but...she’d been beaten to death when she refused to follow an order.
They all knew the consequences of refusing to cooperate.
Luckily, even though prey was scarce, he managed to catch two squirrels and three mice.
He brought his catch to the Alpha, head low, and the beast was pleased.
“Good job, toad cat. You have extra mouse today.” The Alpha seemed to think for a moment.
“You catch five prey a day for quarter moon, you can be elder.”
Toadpelt looked up at the Alpha with gratitude.
“Thank you, m-master.”
He left the den, Starkshock staring at him in awe.
“You know what happens to the elders, right?” She asked.
“Elders have claws too, you know. We can still hunt. Slow prey, at least.” He responded.
She squinted at his ear.
“Did the Alpha pierce you again? Let me look at that.”
Toadpelt padded over to Starkshock and she put some soft stuff in his ear.
He went to his den to rest. Although they were beaten, there were no patrols, so you only had to run one or two errands a day.
Toadpelt felt bad for Starkshock, having to please the Alpha, all the time, day and night. She still somehow found a way to have energy.
Young cats, these days. Must be tough.
Chapter Three - Lyric
"Beetlenose!" Starkshock whispered sharply.
The bracken-colored tom looked up. "Yes?"
"Are you okay?" She asked, peering down at him in the darkness of the warriors' den.
He struggled to his paws, and Starkshock gasped. tufts of fur were missing from his pelt, the furless patches oozing with pus, reeking of rancid infection.
"It's not that bad," He grunted.
"Yes, it is!" Starkshock snapped.
She turned and ran into the alpha's den, not bothering to request permission.
"How dare you?" She screeched, awakening the slumbering dog.
He growled. "How dare you wake me?"
"How could you do that to him?" Starkshock shrieked hysterically.
The alpha sneered. "Beetle?"
"Beetlenose." She growled.
"Ah, yes. Your mate."
"He's not my-" She began defensively. "Doesn't matter."
"I will allow him to be treated." The alpha said gruffly.
She hesitated, then nodded once.
"No 'thank you master' for me?" The wolf said, mocking surprise.
"No." Starkshock snarled. Before he could pierce her, she turned and ran out, heart breaking into millions of pieces.
Beetlenose couldn't die! She wouldn't let him.
But it didn't seem like there was anything she could do...
Chapter Four - Stone
Everyone was crowded around Beetlenose, and the Alpha was shoving his way through the group.
Toadpelt trailed him so he could see what was happening.
When he did, he gasped with shock.
Beetlenose looked like he’d gone through all of the battles Toadpelt had fought at once.
He filled with rage, pure hatred in his eyes as he glared at the Alpha.
“Enough!” He shouted. Every cat went silent.
“You have killed or injured too many cats. We will leave and find a new territory, and leave you mangy beasts right where you are!” The Alpha turned around slowly, amusement in his eyes.
“Oh, no Toad cat. You wrong. We Wolves have too much fun to let you leave now.”
He pelted out of camp, hot breath on his heels.
Toadpelt put up a good fight.
They dragged him back to the camp.
“Fine! Kill me! I’ll be happier in Starclan anyway!” Toadpelt tore up the ground with his claws and yelled all the way to the beating place.
“No, little cat, more fun to beat you more than once than to watch you die.”
It was the worst he’d seen yet. He wasn’t allowed treatment.
The cats still cared for him. Day and night.
He wasn’t even recovered when the Alpha stuck his nose in the den.
“Six prey today, little Toad cat.”
Toadpelt couldn’t do it. Prey was too scarce, he was too slow.
He only brought in five.
Luckily, Beetlenose was there to save him. He’d brought in extra, knowing Toadpelt couldn’t hunt very well.
“Thank you Beetlenose,” he huffed. “What can I do to repay you?”
Beetlenose didn’t answer.
When Toadpelt brought in seven pieces of prey, the Alpha seemed very impressed.
“Toad cat did extra. Toad cat gets reward.”
A sly grin spread across his face.
Chapter Five - Lyric
Starkshock pressed herbs to Beetlenose's pelt, letting the juices seep in, wincing at his gasps of pain.
Eventually, though, the rancid-smelling infection swelling went down, along with his conciousness.
Starkshock stared at him, sleeping, peacefully, for the first time in over a moon.
Her eyes fell to rest on a deathberry thorn lying nearby, and a green berry, the kind Willowwing had used.
She stretched out a paw, then stopped. She couldn't leave her family, she couldn't leave her friends.
Willowwing was gone, and so was Hawkeye, and Finchflight, and Saltpaw, and Whitenose and countless others...
She wanted to cry, but she couldn't. She wanted to run, but she couldn't.
With a snarl, she curled up next to Beetlenose and tried to sleep.
"Stark!" the alpha growled.
Huffing, she turned to glare at the large timberwolf. "What?" She spat icily.
"You're needed in my den."
"I'm needed here!" She retorted angrily. "Leave me alone!"
The alpha hesitated, and she wondered if he would kill her then and there.
"There is someone else who needs healing," He finally muttered.
"Who?" This piqued her interest.
"Toad cat." The alpha said, avoiding her horrified glare.
"What did you DO?" She screamed at him, running past and diving into the alpha's den.
There, lying unconsious, bleeding out, was the crumpled form of Toadpelt.
Chapter Six - Stone
Toadpelt didn’t know how long he’d been out. He looked at the moon.
Not very long.
Toadpelt stood up, and immediately sat back down.
He’d lost a lot of blood.
Who was in the den with him? Starkshock? No.
“Whitenose?! But you’re...dead. I’m...dead?”
“No, Toadpelt. I just want to see you one more time before I send you back to Shadowclan.”
He nuzzled her cheek lovingly, purring louder than he ever had before.
If this is what Starclan feels like, then I want to be here. I’ve served my clan enough.
He shook his head, going back to reality.
No! As long as i’m a warrior, I’ll keep serving my clan!
Voice choked with emotion, tearing up, he said his goodbyes.
“I’ll come visit you soon!” Whitenose shouted.
Toadpelt’s head shot up, waking with a gasp.
The next morning, he was just able to walk.
He struggled over to the Warriors den and nudged everyone with a paw. When he got to Starkshock, he debated waking her up or not.
I’ll let her sleep.
On time, the Alpha strutted out of his den for role call.
“Toad cat, Mouse, Bird, Black cat...Stark! Where’s stark?” He was nearly in panic.
“Right here,” she muttered.
“Ok. Beetle, Finch, Grey.”
He walked back into his den.
Later that day, He saw the Alpha with his goons, training, using cat moves.
If only the Alpha knows the fighting style, then what happens if there is no Alpha?
Toadpelt knew he could go somewhere with this, he just needed time to think.
Chapter Seven - Lyric
Starkshock watched him fight. By him, of course, she meant the alpha.
His fighting moves were generic cat moves: slide, slash, scratch. But if she could find a way to use it against him...
A plan started to formulate in her brain. She only needed the help of others to carry it out.
She glanced around. Toadpelt.
She bounded over, eyes alight with something she hadn't felt in moons: hope.
"What is it?" he asked, cocking his head.
"Gather as many cats as you can and tell them to meet by the exit. If the alpha asks, we're going on a large hunting patrol."
"Every cat in the clan?"
She let out a hiss. "Fine, then. If the alpha asks them, they'll say I'm splitting them into patrols, so that the alpha can enjoy a luxurious feast."
Toadstep nodded. "He might fall for that."
Starkshock nodded. "You get the warriors and apprentices, I'll get the wounded."
He nodded back and hurried off. Starkshock set off grimly, hoping that it would work.
"Why are we gathered here?" Beetlenose asked. He was much better, and Starkshock was adamant about him coming.
"I have a plan for defeating the wolves." Starkshock answered.
"What is it?" Someone else asked.
"The alpha knows cat moves. Therefore, we study the wolf moves. We ambush the leader in his den-"
"Stark!" The alpha called.
She rolled her eyes. "Yes... master?"
"What you doing?"
She sighed. "Making hunting patrols, as a surprise for you. So that you can have a magnificent feast."
She put on a pouty face, hoping the alpha would take the bait.
He nodded. "Good. I surprised."
"Thank you, master."
The alpha turned and stormed back into the den.
"As I was saying, we ambush him in his den, and, using wolf moves, finish him off. The wolves would be in disarray without him. Enough chaos to allow all who are able to escape."
"How many wounded are there?" It was Galepaw.
Starkshock choked back a sob. She was the spitting image of Saltpaw.
"Ahem. Sorry, er, three. They'll all be fit within the moon. No one else get hurt, and by the next gathering date, we will be ready."
Chapter Eight - Stone
“I have a suggestion,” Toadpelt added, once Starkshock had finished speaking,
“We can do what we said, and catch prey for the Alpha. One or two cats can find some Deathberry thorns and put them in the fresh-kill. Use his own weapon against him. To weaken him. Maybe kill him.”
Some of the cats nodded, and Toadpelt further developed his plan.
“The Wolves can’t function with out their Alpha. He gets taken out, we practically win.”
The cats dipped their heads and left for the forest.
Most of the mission was complete.
The cats had caught at least twenty pieces of prey for the alpha.
Now, the trick was getting the thorns in the prey without leaving any trace of it.
They couldn’t put the thorns directly into the body, so they had to get it through the mouth.
“Yuck! I’m gonna have to shove a thorn down this thing‘s throat?”
Toadpelt replied, harshly,
“Shut up, or the idiot’ll hear us.”
Toadpelt aimed straight down the throat of his vole, closed his eyes and hoped for the best.
He opened his eyes and discovered that there was no trace of any more thorn.
Cats started shouting,
“I got mine!”
“Yahoo! We did it!”
“Alpha’s gonna eat well tonight.”
Toadpelt was satisfied with the cats’ catch, so he decided, now is the time to act.
Chapter Nine - Lyric
"Is it ready?" Starkshock asked, sniffing a nearby vole.
"Yes, all of it's baited." Beetlenose replied.
"How much is it?" She asked, cocking her head.
He thought for a moment. "About twenty?"
"Wow!" Starkshock exclaimed, staring at him in surprise. "That's impressive."
Beetlenose smiled bashfully. "Thanks."
"I'll check it over, and then we'll be ready soon," Starkshock announced, gazing down at the pile of prey.
Beetlenose nodded. "Okay. I have to go, Alpha wants to see me."
She gave him a curt nod, and then turned towards the prey.
As he padded away, she opened a vole's mouth, peering into it's extremely narrow trhoat. Sure enough, a few deathberries were stuffed in there haphazardly, along with a claw-shaped thorn.
She put it a few fox-tails again, and moved onto the next prey.
At the fifth squirrel, and ninth piece of prey, she realized the alpha could smell the deathberries.
"Ugh." She grumbled, stalking out of the warrior's den where the prey was strewn.
"Toadpelt?" She mewed, glancing around.
The senior warrior padded over quickly. "What is it?"
"The deathberries are too potent, the alpha'll be able to smell it. We need to cover the scent."
"What do you propose?" He asked, cocking his head curiously.
Starkshock was pensive for a moment. "Herbs. We should stuff them and rub them in herbs."
Toadpelt nodded. "I'll get on that."
Starkshock nodded. "Thank you."
Chapter Ten - Stone
They had just finished rubbing and stuffing the prey.
Toadpelt walked over to Starkshock and asked her,
“Are you ready to smell-check the prey?” She hesitated.
“What? Oh! Yes! Sorry.”
She walked casually to the prey and sniffed each one of them for a good bit of time.
“Good. All I can smell is Watermint. We’ll tell him it will make him feel better if he asks.”
Toadpelt arranged the cats and prey, so it seemed as if this was just a feast for their master.
He took a deep, long breath, making his fur lie flat.
“Okay, everybody. Are you sure you want to do this? If you don’t want to be part of this, you can leave now.”
Everybody stayed put.
Toadpelt nodded in approval.
He signaled to Starkshock, and she stepped in to the Alpha’s den.
Toadpelt had no idea what was happening, he didn’t hear any howling or yelling.
After what felt like seasons upon seasons, the Alpha emerged, expressionless, Starkshock trailing him with a terrified look on her face.
Toadpelt cleared his throat.
“Here, master, we have a feast, a banquet, if you must, prepared for you and your pack members. We have been planning this for some time now, and today is the perfect day to execute our plans. Please, take as much as you like.”
Toadpelt nearly collapsed, he was so nervous.
The Alpha communicated with his pack, in a series of barks and growls that cats could not understand.
His pack began to emerge from the dens, eyes hungry for prey.
Deep down, they’re just stupid dogs. Toadpelt smirked.
The Alpha gulped down a mouse. The pack followed suit.
Chapter Eleven - Lyric
Starkshock's eyes were wide, wider than they'd ever been as she witnessed the carnage.
Soon the yowls began, the yelps, the groans, the shrieks.
They were the hardest of all.
She flattened her ears,
Despite them ruining their lives, and terrorizing the clans, they were still living, sentient beings.
She was a murderer.
She had killed them all.
She was sick.
There was no other option, - she had known that, at least - yet it was painful.
Guilt crashed over her. She had do do something - she had to make amends.
Her lope was graceful, smooth; in a flash, she was by the dying alpha.
"I'm sorry," she muttered thickly, "I never meant for you to happen."
The alpha moaned something, she didn't understand what.
"Wh - What are you saying?" She whispered frantically.
"So - ry -" The alpha choked out.
And then he was gone.
And then they were all gone.
All except one.
They had raised the pup, they had trained the pup. It’s Clanmates may not accept it completely, but it was one of them now.
She ate like a cat, fought like a cat, and hunted like a cat.
Her mother and father had loved her like one of their own kits.
Toadpelt sat there, proud even though he had not mentored her.
She was the first Timberwolf to be accepted by Starclan.
“Marshfoot, is Graypaw ready to become a warrior?”
Marshfoot shone with pride.
“Yes!” She couldn’t help shouting it out.
Elkstar addressed Graypaw once again.
“Then by the powers of Starclan, I give you your warrior name. Graypaw, from this moment on, you will be known as Grayheart. Starclan honors your courage and mental strength, and we welcome you as a full warrior of Shadowclan.”
Grayheart was bigger than every cat in the clan, but she shone with the pride of a kit who caught a butterfly.
She walked up to Elkstar, and he touched his nose to her shoulder. She touched her nose to his head, and the cheering began.
“Grayheart! Grayheart! Grayheart!”
Some of the clan cats didn’t trust her, and others were frightened of her, but the majority supported her with all their hearts.
Toadpelt loved when the clan had new life and young warriors. It meant change, but change for the better.
When Toadpelt sat down to take a piece of prey, he had Sparrowpelt, Berryfall and Barknose beside him. His sons and daughter.
Whatever anybody else may have thought, he knew that Whitenose would watch over them forever and always.