The first thing that Lily experienced was the anticipation, the excitement of a big battle, and an inevitable win.
Then she felt the fear.
Fear that her, Scratch, or Shade wouldn't come back.
Then she felt the sensation of her legs beginning to buckle with the effort of walking so far without stopping for water or just a break. The other BloodClan cats seemed strangely undaunted though, for such a long, painful walk to a dangerous place inhabited by enemies. Shade was already having trouble. Her right paw never seemed to fully heal from Scourge's abuse, so she began to drag it in the dirt.
The very weather seemed to be dreading what was to come, for soft, gray clouds blanketed the sky. No birds sang, no butterflies flew through the air.
"I'm so excited!"
"I know, right?"
The chatter of cats filled up her ears as soon as they reached their destination. Four huge oaks, their branches reaching to the sky, loomed before them. Instead of inciting dread, they cause her this strange feeling of false security.
"This is called Fourtrees," Scratch whispered, "This is where we went last time to meet the Clans."
Lily wondered what the Clan cats would be like. Would they be nice and honorable? Or even more vicious and evil than BloodClan?
To her disappointment, she was squashed and crowded so she couldn't even catch a glimpse of the Clan cats. They seemed... healthy. The forest must've done good for them. And it would be all theirs if they won.
All that reached her ears in the overcrowded clearing was Scourge's high and mocking mew, and the strong voice of another cat that she didn't recognize. From what she could gather, he was leading all of the Clans into battle against BloodClan. He was fairly young, but still seemed to be strong and full of spirit.
Lily's nervousness began to shut down and transform into a light daydream. The soft pressing of her brother and mother around her was comforting, and it was all so warm and the huge trees seemed like they were cradling--
Lily was rudely awakened from her reverie when all the cats around her jolted forward at the call, including Shade and Scratch. Unwilling to just sit there, she dashed forward along with her.
An unfamiliar scent hit her nose. It wasn't exactly pleasant, but it wasn't worse than the stink that tainted the streets and trash cans and gutters of Twolegplace. It was... fresher. More earthy.
And just then, she saw her first Clan cat. Unfortunately, she was taking a leap towards her face.
Lily tried to sidestep it, but the she-cat quickly stuck out a paw and hooked it across the bridge of her nose. Pain exploded all around her nose and eyes, even at the base of her ears. That she-cat must've stuck in her claw really hard.
There was no time to think about those kind of things, she reminded herself. Back in the battle, she made a move for the she-cat's paws, but looked at her stomach to fake her out. That time, she actually fell for it. Her legs tumbled, and she toppled over. Lily wasted no time in pouncing on top of her and battering her stomach. Her claws repeatedly raked and raked through flesh, tufts of fur flying. The she-cat was choking. Her eyes pleading, as she tried to wriggle away.
An angered hiss broke out, directed at Lily.
"What in the name of StarClan are you doing? You're killing her!" a tom spat, "Filthy rogues! Have no sense of honor!"
The words went directly to Lily's heart, whether they were true or not.
Slowly, she retracted her claws from the she-cat and backed away. The tom rushed to her side.
"Willowpelt, are you okay?" the tom muttered. Willowpelt. What a weird name.
She coughed. "I'm fine." But she stopped to shoot a furious yet sad at the same time, right at Lily. Together, they limped away. Guilt tugged at her fur, stronger than before. Maybe I really am a monster...
A huge weight barraged into her side, catching her unawares. Tumbling into the dirt, she tried to get a glimpse of her attacker. He was a heavyweight gray tom, with long teeth.
"You'll regret the day that you set paw in our forest," he snarled. Lily just twitched her ears. She didn't believe in talking during battles.
With two quick strides, she was on the tom, tearing at his ear. He retaliated by landing a few blows to her stomach. Despite how brief they were, they made her stomach feel on fire. She could only imagine how much pain Willowpelt was in.
Regaining her focus on the battle at hand, she swiped her claws across the tom's eye. She felt her claw sickeningly sink into his pupil. He screeched with pain, and backed away.
Other cats didn't seem to be having as much luck as her. The Clan cats seemed pretty well trained, yet they still didn't have the advantage of the dog teeth collars or long claws.
More BloodClan cats poured over the hill, weaving through the treetops, teeth flashing. They would win this, it was plain to see.
A striking orange tom clambered up to the top of a huge rock. "Clans, regroup!"
The new reassurance gave her twice the amount of confidence and energy as before. Fast and sneaky as the wind, she battered through her enemies like never before, going through cat after cat who challenged her.
Not until she reached a misty gray she-cat with stunning blue eyes.
The she-cat was in much better health than she was, it was plain to see. Lily didn't let this daunt her; she had beaten every rival in the battle so far, and BloodClan had the upper paw.
Quickly, she tried to execute a roll and spring to her feet, knocking the she-cat over, but she anticipated this and squashed her when she came close. This she-cat definitely had enough to eat. Lily could barely breathe.
"The forest will be ours, Clan cat!" she wheezed from underneath her weight, for once engaging in talk in battle. This wasn't meant to be a battle tactic, but the gray she-cat was distracted as she tried to find out a witty, suitable reply. Lily was able to squirm out from under her weight, shooting a taunting glance as she made a leap striaght for her paws.
At the last moment, the she-cat stuck out a paw.
The blow left her ears ringing, her mouth tasting of ripped tissue and blood. Her eyes remained squinted closed. The loud voice of a cat screeching reached her ears. Head pounding, she climbed to her paws, and tried to listen to who was talking and what they were saying.
"Whitestorm!" the orange tom was wailing as he crouched over the blood-clotted body of a frail white tom. Bone stood before them, smiling. All you needed to do to find out which cat killed him, was stare right in Bone's evil face.
I'm only fighting for BloodClan to gain safety for Scratch and Shade.
Bone caught her stare.
"What are you looking at, pidgeon-brain? Go fight and pretend like you're not the coward that you are."
"I am not a coward," Lily growled under her breath. Maybe she was a coward once, when she was a lowly kit. But certaintly not now. Now she was a fighter, one to watch out for.
If they won, Bone had better watch out too.
"I say these words before Whitestorm so he may hear and approve my choice! Graystripe will be the new deputy of ThunderClan!" the ginger-orange tom blustered.
At that moment, a group of several young cats streaked towards Bone. Lily felt her stomach lurch. Cats of that age couldn't take on the full-grown Bone! He was too powerful. If anything, she had to help secretly.
Yet they seemed to be managing just fine, as two latched onto his back and were furiously spitting and clawing. The others were landing blows at his stomach and paws. Bone was feebly trying to swipe back, but the young and lithe cats managed to dodge his blows and continued scratching and biting harder than before.
Bone began to give out. Lily never thought she would see the day, but he was helpless on the earth, as the young cats battered him. Rising up in her stomach was a sick satisfaction that one of her major enemies was being beaten down. And by cats barely older than kits, too.
Finally, Bone's paws stopped quivering, and he remained still. The young cats consciously jumped off of him, and began to lick their paws and get back in the battle, which was still raging heavily around her.
Lily scanned the area for Scourge. Bone was surely dead, but knowing Scourge, he would keep fighting until the end.
Indeed he was. He was head to head with the mighty orange tom, his blue eyes glittering like sharp shards of ice, unforgiving and cold. The other fiery ginger tom also seemed to be blazing through the battle, yet with more honor.
Good and evil.
Lily wished it hadn't come to this, but at this point, she would do anything to get off the streets.
In a flash, Scourge bolted forward, and latched on to the tom's neck.
The tom began to gag and convulse, blood leaking from his throat and mouth. Crumpling to the ground, he tried to stand back up, but he slowly slipped away. Scourge gazed over him, his eyes flickering with triumphant flames.
Her stomach lurched. The tom seemed to be burning with heroism and good nature, but he was just cut down like the rest of the cats.
Suddenly, a weight slammed into her from the back. Uttering a half gasp of surprise, and half choke, she turned to face her attacker. It was a tom, his thick pelt as black as night.
I can't just let him sneak up on me like that! Baring her teeth in a vicious snarl, she lunged right for his legs.
She did no trick to fake him out, nothing clever. But the speed and strength behind her leap was enough to send him sprawling.
But she should've known that it couldn't be that easy. A claw reached around, and scraped her side. She whipped around, to be staring into a pair of amber eyes.
The black tom rose up from behind her, as the amber-eyed she-cat struck blow after blow on her face. Pathetically trying to shield herself so she could get an attack in, she held up one paw over her face. This unbalanced her, so when the black tom sank his teeth into her haunch, she toppled over, at their mercy.
Right then, she just realized that she was going to be battered.
"I surrender," she coughed. Instantly, she was let up by the Clan cats. She coughed, and breathed heavily.
"Get out," hissed the black tom.
Lily didn't need to be told twice. Streaking away, she kept an eye out for Scratch and her mother.
The only thing she did see was Scourge and the bright orange tom simutaneously leaping at each other, the gleam of battle in their eyes. Shock coursed through Lily. That tom was dead! How could he possibly be attacking Scourge now? The Clans were surely the strangest cats Lily had ever met.
At first, she was confused. But when she saw the dark, red scar across Scourge's neck, she could barely believe her eyes.
"Scourge is dead!" The strangled cries rose up, echoing through the BloodClan cats, who separated themselves from their own battles to run.
She felt a rock drop in her stomach. Scourge, dead? How could the powerful leader that had been controlling her life be dead? Just like that?
"Lily!" a familiar voice cried. "Lily!"
She turned around to the comforting face of Scratch. "Scratch!" she called out in return. Pushing her way through the steady stream of fleeing cats, she came to his side.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a bit cut up. You?"
He winced. "One she-cat back there gave me a pretty nasty scratch to the chest. But other than that, I'm fine."
Lily breathed out a sigh of relief. The whole situation was so tense that she was glad that she could finally have some time with her family. If they managed to just kill Scourge, then they could cut us all down easily.
"Where's Shade?" she asked suddenly.
His eyes widened. "Last time I saw her, she was battling a hefty tabby tom. She seemed okay, so I left to fight another battle."
Lily felt the panic set in. "'We have to find her!"
Desparately, they fought against the steady flow of escaping BloodClan cats.
After what seemed like a moon, they finally were able to spot a familiar dark gray pelt.
"Shade! Shade!" Lily screeched. Scratch looked on, down at her.
"Are you sure that's her?"
"Yes, I'm sure! She's still fighting! Let's go help her!"
At their fastest pace, the two littermates dashed to their mother's side.
She appeared to be fighting a gray tom, with a long scar down his back.
Another tom with jet black paws turned to him, angrily. "I said, ShadowClan, retreat!" But the scarred tom continued trying to batter Shade.
With a furious screech, Lily tried to leap in and help. But it was too late. Shade's paw was dragging on the ground, as she tried to defend the next attack.
"It's her faulty paw!" Lily yowled. Shade tried to swat the tom with it, but he was able to easily dodge, and sink his teeth into her neck.
With a rasping cry, Shade sank to the ground. Blood gushed from her throat wound. Looking slightly surprised and a bit pleased with himself, the scarred tom dashed away after the rest of the "ShadowClan" cats.
In reality, these Clan cats are no better than we are.
Lily dashed to Shade's side, Scratch close behind her. Grief overwhelmed her, until she felt she couldn't even breathe. Instead, she just sank to the ground, her body wracked with sobs. Never in her life had she felt such dejection, and feeling of being so alone. Her mother was abused by BloodClan, then died in a battle that BloodClan started. A fresh wave of tears leaked out of Lily's eyes.
Scratch gently put a tail on her shoulder, as if trying to comfort her, even though he wasn't crying himself. But as she looked up over her shoulder at him, and rested her gaze on his spiked collar, she realized that he wasn't the cat that he used to be.
She was all alone in the world now.
As they finally began to pad after the terrified and defeated BloodClan cats, Scratch tried in vain to comfort her.
"It's all right. We'll get revenge for what they've done to Scourge," he growled. Lily twitched her ears in anger.
"But what about Shade?" she sniffed.
"Yeah, that too," he added. Like he doesn't even care.
No matter what Scratch tried, she'd seek her revenge for the death of her mother, killed in such a brutal way. Even if it finished her off as well.
It was just one of those days, were there wasn't much to do. She wandered the alleys, right by Scorch's side. As much as she cherished her time with him, she missed being a kittypet sometimes. There was so much less stress, so much less struggle for survival.
Suddenly, Scorch's ears pricked. "Hey, I think there's some cats down there," he mewed.
"Yeah?" Jilly mewed nervously. She hoped that they would turn the other way. Just from a half moon of experience, Jilly learned that most cats weren't exactly friendly. In fact, most of the time they would steal your prey if they could.
Nevertheless, Scorch padded up to the group. There were only three cats, all talking in hushed voices. At once, they looked up.
"We don't have any food, if that's what you want. We can barely find anything ourselves," a tortoiseshell she-cat mewed.
Scorch shook his head. "We don't want food. I'm Scorch, and this is my mate Jilly."
The tortoiseshell snorted. "Jilly?"
"What kind of a name is that?"
"Yeah, don't you know that Scourge will get mad?"
She felt Scorch tense up beside her. Jilly swallowed her apprehension, and moved a bit closer to him.
Finally, he rested his blue eyes on her. "Come on, Jilly. Let's go somewhere else." Jilly couldn't decide if she was offended that he was protecting her, or glad to be away from those cats.
More briskly than usual, they padded around a corner and sat down behind an old rotted piece of wood, so they wouldn't be spotted by Twolegs.
"I think it's about time you changed your name."
She gulped. "But what if I don't want to? Contrary to what you street cats believe, Twolegs can be kind and caring. I don't want to forget that."
"You are a street cat now. It's about time you face it. And this means, that you have to take a name that Scourge would approve of."
That Scourge would approve him? What, does he expect me to change my name to Blood or something?
"It doesn't have to be anything that fierce. Just tough and dark enough that Scourge and his subordinates will buy it."
She really didn't want to change her name, but she realized that by now, she just had to.
"What about... Shadow?"
"Good one, but there's already a Shadow. Maybe something... similar." He paused for a moment. "How about Shade?"
It wasn't too bad. In fact, it was kind of pretty. It had a nice ring to it. Shade.
"Yeah, that's good."
"Well, congratulations, Shade."
Now she knew that she could never go back to her old life.
And she was happy.