Gingerheart and Frostwing-- by Spirit
Nightsplash-- by Stormy
She looked up at her Clan leader, snorting skeptically. Nightsplash was always surprised at the anger that flashed in Redstar's eyes, as he spoke of SkyClan.
"--they think that they can overtake us, and take our territory! Well, they are wrong. We will fight down to the last warrior to protect our Clan and territory!"
She rolled her eyes. SkyClan is so weak right now that a gust of wind could knock them down. I seriously doubt that we'll need to fight down to our "last warrior".
But nevertheless, ThunderClan cheered. Nightsplash joined in. She still had pride in her Clan, even though she thought that Redstar was taking it a tad too far. Probably just for the fretting queens.
The meeting dispersed, as most cats crept into their dens to rest. Some stayed outside in the starlight, to share tongues. Nightsplash was indecisive. She didn't have many friends, yet she was restless, and wasn't ready to settle down into the warriors' den.
Tensions were rising, and there was nothing to do to stop it but wait until everything exploded around them, in a flash of teeth and claws.
Before she had any more time to ponder what she could do, without ever finding a real answer, Amberclaw padded up to her.
"Hi," he said, attempting to balance a pebble on his claw. It lasted for a couple of seconds, before Amberclaw staggered, and it went flying right to Seedpelt's chest. Seedpelt let out an annoying hiss, and grumpily stalked into the warriors' den.
Nightsplash purred with amusement. "So what's up?"
"You know. Everyone's anticipating the dreaded attack from SkyClan."
Nightsplash couldn't tell if she was making fun of Redstar, or was actually serious. So she just said, "Yeah."
"Are you ready?" he said, whiskers twitching, the familiar gleam in his eyes.
"Readier than ever."
Amberclaw yawned, and flicked his tail over her ear. "I had better get some sleep. Dawn patrol."
Nightsplash ran her tongue over her paw. "Lucky you." He growled playfully, then began to stroll away.
The little gathering seemed to be breaking up, as the night grew colder. Except for Foxclaw and Mistyleaf, and Featherdapple, who was guarding the entrance. She padded up to Featherdapple, and mewed, "Do you want me to take your place? You can go get some sleep, if you'd like."
Featherdapple shook her head, and sniffed. "Redstar's orders specifically stated that I am to be guard. Not ignorant warriors like you. Who knows what would happen if SkyClan attacked?" Nightsplash gave an irritated flick of her tail. What a jerk. The way she says it, it's like she was a specially chosen gift from StarClan.
Nightsplash chose her words carefully. "Did he say that you were to guard the entrance? Because if he didn't, I can do that for you, and you can guard the Dirtplace. It seems like your abilities would be more appreciated there."
Featherdapple gave her a burning I'll-get-you-later look. "Good night," Nightsplash mewed, then decided to go to the warriors' den, away from that snob.
She could see that Blueheart had rolled over, so she was halfway in her nest. Sometimes she just got sick of all the cats in ThunderClan.
Gently, she pushed Blueheart away. She just snuffled and twitched her ear. Nightsplash curled up, leaving one pale green eye open, watching the soft movement of her Clan. Finally, it drifted shut, as she slipped off into a deep sleep.
In a flash, her claws sank into the scrawny shrew. It squeaked once, and was dead.
"Nice catch, Nightspash!" Fernwhisper mewed cheerfully. She purred her thanks, and grasped it in her jaws. The breeze wafted in front of her nose, and the forest seemed awfully still, excpept for the rustling of the leaves, and the bored shuffle of Rosecloud's paws. Not even a twitch of a mouse. She had to admit that prey was scarce, and it was for most Clans. She would need to start being more mindful of how much she was eating.
Rosecloud's light pinkish ginger fur unfurled, as she stood upright, outlined against the dark holly leaves like a blackbird against the snow. Crossly, she lifted her nose into the cool air. Her blue eyes narrowed as she spoke.
"SkyClan." Rosecloud's words were as sharp as brambles. But what is it actually like to be SkyClan? She pondered the thought. In a leaf-bare where prey is scarce... their territory being destroyed by Twolegs... and the conflict with us. It's hard times for them. They must be just another Clan, trying to stay alive.
Nightsplash buried her catch, ashamed, and cleared her head. She couldn't have sympathy for the enemy, especially when an invasion was so near.
"Well, what are we doing, standing around? Let's see if they have crossed the border!" Fernwhisper hissed. Before any further rational decision was made, they were streaking towards the border.
She had sharpened up her claws, ready for an attack, by the time they reached the origin of the SkyClan scent.
But instead of stumbling across a hostile patrol stealing prey, their eyes were glazed with terror, as they ran from the giant, rumbling Twoleg monster. Nightsplash's heart leaped into her throat. It's heading right toward us!
"Get back!" Fernwhisper screeched. She didn't need to be told twice. As soon as you could say "mouse", Nightsplash was in the prickly bushes.
Rosecloud soon followed, along with Fernwhisper. Despite her fear, Nightsplash spoke. "Do you think we should help them?" She squinted, looking closer. "One of them is an apprentice!"
"Are you insane?" Rosecloud hissed, "That would be risking our lives for our bitter enemies!"
The roar of the monster became deafening. The cries of terrified cats rose.
Fernwhisper's pale green eyes gleamed. "Maybe we should."
Frustrated, Rosecloud bared her teeth. "I can see I'm outvoted. Now let's go!"
The monster looked even more scary up close. Nightsplash gulped, as she darted forward, to guide the apprentice away. She would never admit it to another cat (she barely acknowledged it herself), but despite her tough and snappy appearance, she wasn't all that brave.
Before she could get there, Fernwhisper shoved the apprentice under a thick tree root. Fox dung!
"Over there!" Nightsplash shouted to the warrior tom leading the patrol. He streaked into the bushes. Rosecloud helped the remaining she-cat.
The monster finally roared through the bushes. Nightsplash watched as the trees cracked and splinted, as smaller branches toppled to the forest floor. She shivered.
As soon as the noise died down, their patrol turned to face the SkyClan cats. They stared back, their eyes wide in terror, and covered in dust and bits of leaves. The little apprentice had a twig right between his eyes. Nightsplash stifled a snicker.
Pulling herself together, she opened her mouth to speak to them, because it was apparent that no one else would. But before she could, they swiftly and jerkily turned around, one by one. They started by padding, then shifted into a jog, then were pelting to their side of the border.
At first, she was just shocked. Then angry. She dug her claws into the ground.
"How dare they!" she burst out. All of them had risked their own lives for them, when they were enemies, to not even be thanked? Nightsplash's tail swished angrily, while Fernwhisper just stared at the ground, Rosecloud looking murderous.
Looking pathetically bedraggled, their patrol limped into camp probably looking like they had plowed through the mud like gophers. They were greeted with shocked glances.
Hollyshade ran up to them, gasping. "Great StarClan! What happened?" she mewed worriedly.
"By the way she acts, you'd think she's a medicine cat," Fernwhisper grumbled. Hollyshade shot him a sharp look, then brushed against his pelt. "Go visit Kestrelwing. Now." Rosecloud and Nightsplash exchanged a glance.
Nightsplash didn't see any injuries on her, except for a few scratches, which she could clean off along with the rest of her pelt. Before some cat could stop her, she stepped out of the camp to rinse herself in the stream just outside of camp.
But she wasn't alone. Surprised, she noticed Amberclaw walking up behind her.
"Look at you, sneaking around," Nightsplash snorted as she pulled a burr from her black pelt.
"You missed one," he pointed out. With one claw, he dabbed a holly leaf from behind her ear. The sight of it falling into the current made her think of Hollyshade and Fernwhisper. Maybe there will be more kits in the Clan soon.
She could feel Amberclaw's gaze burning into her pelt. I wonder what it's like for Hollyshade. How did she get Fernwhisper to like her so much? To have a mate...? Strangely, she was feeling trapped, like there were a million pairs of eyes staring at her and she had nowhere to turn.
"Well. I should be going now." Nightsplash was flabbergasted at how cold and uncaring her voice came out. Amberclaw seemed somewhat dejected.
But she had other things to worry about. Her black fur shining, she returned to camp, in hope of curling up in her nest.
"Nightsplash. You take watch first," Redstar commanded. But I was being chased by Twoleg monsters all day!
"But--but I'm really tired!" she complained.
Redstar looked her in the eye. "We all are. So you just have to deal with it for now." Without another word, he padded away.
Muttering curses, she took her station at the camp entrance. The nighttime wind chilled her to the bone. For a moment, she considered waking up Hollyshade early for her watch, and saying that it was her turn. But she decided against it. Nightsplash was still a very young warrior, and tricking a senior one could get her into a lot of trouble.
Unable to resist, she took a few steps into the woods. The fresh air felt good, even though it was cold. Leaves blew by slowly, as if they didn't want to drift to a new destination.
Her foot snapped a twig. She ignored it, but then she snapped another stick and rustled a leaf.
"Great StarClan, I'm clumsy," she mumbled. Nightsplash backed into the camp once again.
But the crackling continued.
And suddenly, she found herself staring into a pair of ice blue eyes gleaming from the darkness. The words that all of ThunderClan had anticipated rang out.
Frostpaw blinked, her eyelids drooping in exhaustion.... or boredom... or both. "Frostpaw. You know this! Where is the best place to hunt frogs in out territory?" A voice shook Frostpaw awake.
"Huh? Oh, uh..." She stammered. Her mentor, Shallowpool, stared at her expectantly. "Oh! Over by the carrionplace!"
"There`s my smart apprentice. Your final assessment is tomorrow. I know with you, you`ll easily pass."
"Um... thanks." Frostpaw never understood her mentor's.... puns... or whatever he liked to call them. "I'll meet you back at camp in a little while. I'm going to stay out hunting." She meowed and slipped away into the bushes, ears twitching.
"Okay then!" Shallowpool called after her, one eyebrow raised in amusement. Frostpaw glanced over her shoulder and put a paw down on a pile of pine needles cautiously. Frostpaw was a apprentice of ShadowClan, with stark white fur, ice blue eyes, and a sharp tongue. "Oh, Frostpaw wait!" Shallowpool called urgently.
Frostpaw turned to see him storming towards her, leaving a trail of swinging ferns. "What is it?" she purred.
Shallowpool flicked his tail towards SkyClan territory. "Be cautious when hunting over there, those flea-bags are getting jumpy over the rising amount of two-legs in their territory. They can and will cause a fight over something silly, so if you see one," Shallowpool paused. "Be careful, Frostpaw. I don't want all my training to go to waste in one lousy border fight." he licked a stray piece of fur from the top of her head back into place and nodded, his amber eyes sparkling.
"Got it, almighty mentor." Frostpaw rolled her eyes. Shallowpool turned and padded back into the ferns, sending them swaying again. When Frostpaw saw the last of Shallowpool's dark tabby tail disapear into the fronds, she turned and padded quickly towards the SkyClan border.
Her paws thrummed the hard soil in an even beat, much like a racing heartbeat. Her paws carried her faster and faster, until she was practically flying, paws barely touching the soggy forest floor. The sound of prey hummed all around her, but she paid no heed. She slowed, then came to a stop when the sharp scent of ThunderClan border marks filled her nostrils. How can they stand this stench? 'Frostpaw thought and wrinkled her nose.
She raced along the Thunderpath, making her way to Fourtrees. Her long, fluffy white tail streamed behind her, like a lingering shadow of her presence. The scent of all five Clans passed her in a breeze, showing that she was near Fourtrees. As the oaks came into view, she began to slow her stride until she was moving in a fast trot.
She slipped past one of the oaks and sat in the middle of the clearing, waiting. She sat for hours, with no sign of anyone coming. Soon, the sharp night breeze forced her to make her way home, confusion and saddness mixing together. She slipped back into ShadowClan territory, heading to the thicker pines to hunt. It began to rain hevily, making an even beat on the packed ground.
She scented the air, and soon found the scent of mouse on the wind. Frostpaw soon spotted the small rodent nibbling on hazelnut. She crouched, stalked forward, and pounced.
Her claws came down on empty air, as the mouse escaped under a root. She cursed under her breath and scented the air again. The rain covered all of the possible prey-scents. She sighed, and padded back to camp, fur sodden and cold. When she entered camp she saw everyone sheltering in their dens, either talking, sharing tongues, or eating.
They all looked happy but Frostpaw was miserable and angry at her horrible hunting skills. She shook herself off before entering the apprentice den, curling up in her nest, and attempting to fall asleep and exentually, she did.
"Frostpaw, wake up! Final asessment!" a voice roused her from her sleep.
"Unuhhhhhhhhggghhhhh" she groaned. Teeth gripped her scruff and she lept up, in full fighting stance. Shallowpool stood above her, whiskers twitching in amusement. Frostpaw blushed and quickly pushed past her mentor and into camp.
Shallowpool looked at the sky. "Meet me at sunhigh at the camp entrance. On time." he purred and walked past her, grabbed a plump frog from the fresh-kill pile, and padded over to sit with his best friend, Pineclaw. Frostpaw sighed and padded over to the fresh-kill pile. She quickly took a rabbit and began padding over to the edge of camp where the apprentices usually met to eat.
"Frostpaw, get something smaller, that could feed two queens and their kits." a deep rumbling voice called to her. Frostpaw turned to see the deputy, Featherheart.
"Yes, Featherheart." she meowed and placed the rabbit back in the pile, blushing in embarassment at her absent-mindedness. She quickly took a small sparrow and padded over to the apprentices' spot. Her friends Fallenpaw and Larkpaw, who was a moon away from becoming a warrior.
Fallenpaw looked up as Frostpaw settled beside him. "Hey, Frostpaw. I hear that your final assessment is today?"
Frostpaw purred. "Yeah, I have to meet Shallowpool at sunhigh." She took a bite out of her mouse, barely paying attention to the musky flavor.
"Really? Cool, mine too!" Fallenpaw purred so loudly Frostpaw thought that he would explode.
"Great!" Frostpaw said and took another mouthful of the rodent. Larkpaw was almost invisable with her tortoiseshell pelt blending into the dark shadowy forest area behind her, eyes shining like an emerald green beacon in the dark.
"Why are you so quiet, Larkpaw?" Fallenpaw meowed and moved closer to her so their pelts were brushing.
Frostpaw's eye twitched comically. Fallenpaw looked up and twitched his whiskers in amusement. Fallenpaw and Larkpaw had already promised to be mates as soon as both of them were warriors. "I have to go meet Shallowpool. Have the rest of this." She pushed the mouse towards skinny little Larkpaw and paded towards the camp entrance. She waited a couple moments, then Shallowpool began padding towards her, bouncing in every step. "Okay, so you go hunt, and I will be watching you to make sure you know how to hunt perfectly." Frostpaw gulped and nodded.
Chapter 3-- Stormy
Skinny SkyClan cats pattered into the clearing, slipping around the dens like snakes.
"Attack!" Nightsplash cried.
Bursting out of the dens, came all of the warriors of ThunderClan, teeth bared and ready to fight.
The tom with ice blue eyes finally revealed some of himself as he stepped out of the darkness. Before he could go any further, Nightsplash leaped on top of him with a vicious screech.
Surprised, his legs buckled with the force of her lunge. Gracefully, Nightsplash landed a few blows across his face.
"Let's see how you like this, SkyClan vermin," she hissed under her breath, and sunk her teeth into his shoulder.
He let out a furious screech, and hooked out Nightsplash's paws from under her.
She wasn't expecting a move like that so soon in the battle. With a loud thump, she hit the hard earth, the air knocked out of her. She lay there, trying to breathe, although she was terrified. Sometimes she hated what a scaredy-mouse she could be.
The tom beared down on her, his icy eyes gleaming. His claws raked through her stomach, causing fiery pain to shoot from her belly up to her chest and through her legs. She gritted her teeth, unwilling to surrender or cry out.
Quickly, he clamped his teeth on her ear. In retaliation, Nightsplash clawed furiously at his stomach, trying to get him to let her up.
The SkyClan tom was wincing, but still wasn't giving up. He rose up his paw, unsheathing his claws. Nightsplash squinted her eyes closed, bracing herself.
And the blow never came.
On top of that, the weight of the tom was suddenly lifted off of her.
She slowly opened her eyes, looking up at who had rescued her. Sure enough, it was Amberclaw. He was fighting the tom furiously, matching him blow for blow. His feet moved in a perfect rhythm, and he did a good job of tucking in his tail.
With a loud battle cry, she leaped onto the tom's back, clawing him to help Amberclaw. With a couple shakes, he threw her off of his skinny frame, and streaked away.
"Nice work," she panted.
"Don't I get a thank you?"
Nightsplash looked at him sharply. She hated getting help, cause she could've done it by herself if she had more time. "There's no time for all of that in battle." Without another word, she spun away.
Ducking underneath Rosecloud's tail, she tried to find an opponent that she could battle. But everyone seemed to be all perfectly matched.
Nightsplash was starting to relax, letting her glossy black fur relax, and her claws retreat back into her paws.
But suddenly, all of the SkyClan cats separated from their battles, and fled.
Confusion aroused in her, as she watched them pelt away, through the gorse tunnel and into their forest.
Redstar pushed to the center of all the cats. "Everyone, still stay alert! They are probably going to regroup and attack once more." Queens fretfully pushed their kits into the nursery, as they squealed and tried to slip away. Apprentices stayed bouncing on their paws, ready for the next wave of SkyClan warriors.
"Seedpelt, put together patrols of fit warriors to go see where SkyClan went. All warriors that are injured, go see Kestrelwing immediately."
Slowly, some warriors shuffled over to where their wounds would be treated.
"That means you too, Nightsplash," Redstar mewed, locking his eyes with hers. Grumbling about the injustice of the complete leadership rights of Redstar, she slunk to where Kestrelwing was treating cats, leaving little spatters of blood on her way.
Ever so gently, Kestrelwing pressed a wad of cobwebs on her shoulder bite. She winced at the pressure, but chose to ignore it. After that, he wiped away all of the crusted blood with a piece of wet moss. She winced at the sting of goldenrod.
In the background, she could hear the snappy yet soft voice of Seedpelt sending out patrols of cats, ready to search the territory. Nightsplash's tail twitched, as she was teeming with jealousy. While she was getting herbs crusted on her pelt, Amberclaw was going out to fight their enemies some more.
Seedpelt had her heart set on organizing one more patrol. "I need Blueheart, Sparrowtail, Rainspots to loop around the back of the camp and check if they're hiding there."
The pain in her stomach died down to a numbness, that could be easily ignored. As Kestrelwing slipped away to treat the other cats, Nightsplash snuck up to Seedpelt.
"Wait!" she called out to the patrol.
"What?" Blueheart asked irritably.
She turned to Seepelt. "May I join the patrol? My wounds have been treated, and I'm ready to go! Please?"
Kestrelwing's head snapped around. "What?"
"Come on," Nightsplash complained, "I'm fine, you treated me, now worry about something else. I need to serve my Clan."
Uttering a long sigh, Seedpelt spoke again. "You know that there's no arguing with her." Well, true.
Kestrelwing flicked his tail angrily, and nodded.
"Fine. Join the patrol now, before you hold up the entire operation."
She padded over to Blueheart's patrol with a dignified air, even though she was really leaping around inside.
"Hi. I'm joining your guys' patrol," she mewed to them, walking up in front of them.
Rainspots snorted. "Oh, great."
"Problem?" Nightsplash replied warily.
Rainspots just twitched his tail and turned the other way.
The forest seemed so much more secretive now, like every tree could be hiding a SkyClan warrior, every bush an attacker waiting silently for them. Nightsplash kept her ears pricked, her pale green eyes searching everywhere.
She heard a twig snap. Surprised, she leapt up with a hiss.
Rainspots snapped around. "That was me," he grumbled.
"Well sor-ree. I thought that we had to keep alert for enemies," she replied haughtily.
Rainspots just rolled his eyes and kept on walking.
"You're going to scare away any SkyClan cats that we might encounter if we keep on going like this," Blueheart sighed.
They plodded on in silence for a while, before the sound of a cat racing after them was heard.
"That doesn't seem like a SkyClan cat," Sparrowtail remarked. It was moving through the brush with too much ease.
Featherdapple burst through the bushes.
"We've been attacked! The SkyClan cats dropped from the trees, like squirrels!"
"The cowards!" Blueheart spat.
"Come on, we need your help!"
Nightsplash found herself racing through the forest, paws thrumming against the green forest turf. Unfortunately, her wounds began to ache once more as the effects of the goldenrod began to wear off. It stung, way worse than anticipated. Grimacing, she tried to keep up with the rest of her patrol.
The little grove where Featherdapple's patrol must've been was now dotted with writhing and screeched bodies, tumbling through the shrubbery, striking at each other.
Without hesitation, Nightsplash sauntered right into the heart of the battle, glancing around warily for an opponent.
She saw ginger SkyClan tom with a few white splotches begin to rest from the fighting, panting. His name was Gingerheart, she believed.
Ignoring the searing pain through her belly area, she sneakily crept up behind him. Eyes shining with the light of battle, she let out a caterwaul, and slammed into his side. He gasped with surprise, and turned to give her a blow to the face. She dodged it, and raked her claws down his side.
"Surrender?" she hissed, aiming another blow at his face.
He didn't speak. Instead, he just flipped himself out from underneath her. For a moment, she thought her was going to regroup, but instead he ran into the bushes.
"Yeah! You run!" she yowled, gloating.
Battle cries and yowls emitted from the grove. Finally, the much-needed words rang out.
It was only now that she realized how hunger could make cats fiercer.
She didn't worry much though, because that still meant that SkyClan was weak.
But how long would it be before another attack?
Chapter 4-- Spirit
Frostpaw padded through the forest, searching for any prey that could be lurking under the brambles. A distant squeak of a baby bird told her that there was a nest of robins nearby. She swerved her ears back and forth, testing the air as she did so, struggling to pinpoint exactly where the nest was. Finally, she found the musky scent of robins on a branch in a tall oak.
She lept, digging her claws into the soggy wood, pulling herself up with big leaps. On the third leap, her hindpaws slipped on the dark wood and she fell down about one leap. But she persued the idea of getting the birds that would feed at least three elders in the Clan.
She took a big leap up, scrabbling the tree bark with her curved claws. Eventually she worked herself up to a layer of thick lower branches so she was just able to leap higher and higher into the dark tree. A close squeak told her that the nest was close by. She twitched her whiskers. The nest was close above her, about two branches. She bunched up her muscles and lept into the branch that the nest was in with a tremendous leap.
There was two parents, three chicks, and one young robin who was probably staying in the nest until he found a mate. Frostpaw sized up the robins for a moment, she knew that the birds could fight back and spread horrible sickness with their dirty talons. She crouched on the branch, the robins hadn't noticed her yet, she was hiding behind a large bunch of pine needles. She decided at last to kill the father and the younger robin. She couldn't bring herself to kill the mother, whom the chicks depended on, and she couldn't kill the chicks, they had never had a chance in life.
The chicks chirped absently as the mother say on the edge of the branch, singing the short song of the robins. Frostpaw locked her eyes on her target; the two robins, tensed, and sprang clearly onto the father robin's small back. The branch the father robin was perched on swayed dangerously from the extra weight, but in the thrill of the hunt Frostpaw paid no attention. She dug her claws into the father robin's back, then quickly nipped his spine.
The bird went limp in her jaws. Frostpaw dropped the father robin to the ground below, then turned and pounced on the younger robin's back, pinning him to the branch. He screamed, and the forest quieted, as if daring Frostpaw to kill him, and she did. Frostpaw dropped him to the ground besides the father. She looked up, to see the mother robin frozen in terror, spreading her wings to hide her little hatchlings. The mother robin was trembling, Frostpaw realized. She almost felt sympathetic to the bird, but all sympathy fell away when the mother charged her, talons bared and beak parted in a dangerous shriek.
Frostpaw was driven back, until she was at the end of the branch. She looked pleadingly at the bird, as the dived Frostpaw, digging her talons into Frostpaw's skin, then she fell. She fell like a deadweight, screaming. The ground came closer and closer, as Frostpaw prayed to StarClan. She closed her eyes, and.... thump.
She expected to feel horrible pain shoot through her body... but no... she felt fur beneath her, and looked down to see that she had landed on a dark tabby shape. Then she noticed that the shape was smirking. "Shallowpool!" she cried with glee, for she was sure she would die in she landing. She stepped off Shallowpool and onto the ground, wobbling slightly. "I thought I was going to die!"
"You are lucky I was there, you could've died." Shallowpool purred in reply. Frostpaw licked hiw shoulder gratefully.
"Thank you so much." she tapped his cheek with her fluffy tail. Shallowpool turned his head to the side, hiding his embarassment.
"We should get back to camp. You have passed your assessment."