(Info Page - Shadows Among the Clans Info Page)
The clans have been peaceful since the Great Battle. It has only been eight moons since the Great Battle. Two since the murders started. Cats were dying from all four of the clans. The murderer, or murderers, struck on the darkest night of each moon. Who was behind these deaths? Who would want to do this, so soon after the Great Battle?
A spy, unsure of her loyalties,
A victim, torn between her family and clan and the right thing to do,
A suspect, blinded by injustice.
Together, they must work together to exile the shadows from the clans.
Firestar was baffled. And he could tell that other StarClan cats were too. Each moon, four more cats joined them. They had nothing in common between them. The murdered cats' ages varied from kit to elder, and those cats barely even seemed to know each other. What was the cause of these deaths? Firestar knew that the murderer couldn't be working alone. How else would they have gotten to the cats from the other clans? There was only one way to find out.
Pinekit was stiff with fear. She could sense that tonight was the night the murderer struck. Tonight had the same dark, eerie feeling as last moon. Pinekit stuck her head outside. Claw moon. It would mean that tonight would definetly be one of the darkest nights this moon. She scanned the clearing, wondering which cat would meet their end tonight. Shuddering, she retreated back into the warmth of the nursery.
Willowkit and Maplekit were wriggling around beside her. Pinekit could sense their fear as well. Their mother, Ivypool, mewed to them, "Stop wriggling around, you need your sleep." Gradually, Pinekit's littermates slipped into sleep. But Pinekit couldn't sleep. Unease wormed her pelt. She knew, that she had to act. She would stay awake and catch the killer.
At last, Ivypool fell asleep. Gently distangling herself from her sisters, Pinekit crept towards the clearing. Scanning the camp, she looked for a place to hide as she waited for the murderer. There! The shadowy corner of the hollow would hide Pinekit's dark brown and white pelt well. Settling down, she waited, doubts pricking her mind. What could a kit do against a murderer who can kill a fully trained warrior? What if the murderer is already inside one of the dens? Pinekit pushed the thoughts away.
It was moonhigh. Barely. The moon was hardly visible, covered by dark clouds. Pinekit was stuggling to stay awake when she saw a shadow start to move. It crept toward the warriors den, using the hunters crouch. Definetly a ThunderClan cat then, Pinekit confirmed, And its pelt looks...ginger. And there's only a few cats with a ginger pelt, apart from Maplekit. Which means there's unquestionably a traitor among us.
She could feel someone watching her. Their gaze pricked her pelt. Glancing around, she searched for whoever it was watching her. She caught a glimpse of tiny dark amber eyes blinking at her before they vanished. Worry about that later, she told herself, You have a mission to complete. She carefully pulled herself into the warriors den, trying to not make a noise. Eyes adjusting to the darkness compared to outside, she searched for her target. Then she found it. Curled up in a pale ginger ball near the centre of the den, was Sandstorm. Well respected, but still her target. Sliding around the sleeping bodies, she made her way toward Sandstorm. With a quick slash, she sliced her claws across Sandstorm's throat. Blood seeped out of the wound. Done, she thought, I hope they'll be impressed with me and formally make me one of them. Now to figure out who was watching me...
"Sandstorm's dead!" Blossomfall shrieked, tearing out of the den. She stretched, her ginger pelt eating up the sunshine but pretending to freeze in horror as her gaze slid across Sandstorm's body. Blood from the throat wound was soaking up Sandstorm's fur as well as the moss from her nest. Blossomfall and Bumblestripe tore from the den, pouring out the news to the cats in the nursery, elders den and apprentices den. Satisfaction wormed through her pelt, until she remembered the intense gaze of someone watching her last night. I will find out who that was, she vowed to herself, and kill them before they tell everyone that it was me.
"Graystripe," Bramblestar announced, "Share your qualities with Pinepaw and train her to become a great warrior like you."
"Pinepaw! Maplepaw! Willowpaw!" The clan cheered. Pride filled Pinepaw from nose to tail. She was finally an apprentice! Her gaze met Ivypool's and Brackenfur's as her parents yowled out theur new names. But she froze when she felt a cold stare on her pelt. It was Squirrelflight. Her emerald eyes were narrowed at her. She knows, Pinepaw realised, She knows that someone was watching her last night. And she suspects me. That wasn't good. However she ignored the fear and knowledge of the fact that she knew who the murderer was. And Pinepaw was undoubtedly Squirrelflight's next target.
Almost... there, Pinepaw concentrated, her attention fixed on a thrush, And...NOW! She leapt, pouncing squarely on top of the bird and killing it with a swift blow. But before she could thank StarClan, a ginger ball of fur exploded from the bushes and bowled into her, pinning her down and putting pressure on her throat. The next thing that Pinepaw remembered was pain exploding from the base of her skull before the world went black.
Squirrelflight glared at Pinepaw, whose warm amber eyes were sparking with pride. But when she turned to look at Squirrelflight, she froze. That tiny movement made it clear that it was Pinepaw who was spying on her each claw moon. At least killing Sandstorm had made her accepted in the band of murderers who were plotting to take over the clans. And Squirrelflight wanted to be part of the winning side. Even if it meant killing Bramblestar. Her own mate. But Squirrelflight was furious about the way that Bramblestar treated her after he became leader. He had acted like he was way above her, someone who she could never amount to. But he was wrong.
She's a skilled hunter, Squirrelflight mused, watching Pinepaw as she stalked a thrush, But she's going down. I can't have her tell the clan that it was me. The moment she killed the thrush, Squirrelflight leapt, knocking Pinepaw off her paws. She had seen Pinepaw train, and she was a skilled fighter. But Squirrelflight was the one with the element of surprise here. With a quick blow to her head, Pinepaw fell, limp. Dragging the unconsious apprentice away from the direction of camp, she hauled Pinepaw to a small ravine at the edge of ThunderClan territory. Carefully picking her way down, she reached the bottom. She then looked for somewhere to keep the apprentice. At the edge of the ravine was a small but sturdy oak sapling. It would be perfect for tying the apprentice there.
After securing the dark brown and white apprentice, Squirrelflight went to search for some fox dung. She rolled in it until she was satisfied that it would cover up any scent. She gave herself some minor injuries, scratching at her pelt, making it look like she had just fought a fox. She raced into the camp, with her fur on end. "Fox!" Squirrelflight yowled, hoping it was convincing, "Fox at the forest border, and it took Pinepaw!" Dropping her head onto her paws, she made it look like she was weighed down with grief. "No!" Ivypool wailed, stumbling toward her, "Tell me it isn't true!" It isn't, Squirrelflight thought but pushed it away and mewed, "I'm so sorry."
Pinepaw forced herself to open her eyes. This wasn't anywhere she recognised. And when she tried to move, she found herself bond tightly to a tree with extremely strong vines. She could also feel a heavy weight on her tail. But when she twisted her head around to look, the vine around her neck tightened, building a horrible choking force on her throat. She only caught a glimpse of a large rock before she was forced to look away. "Enjoying your stay?" sneered a voice from above her. Squirrelflight leapt down. "Well, get comfortable, because you won't be leaving for a while."
Hunger clawed at Pinepaw's belly. Squirrelflight came down every quater moon to taunt her, but she never brought any prey. It had been two weeks since she had been captured. Straining against the vines, she felt pain sear along her tail. The boulder that pinned it down certainly wasn't helping. Pinepaw forced herslef not to sigh. She promised to herself that she would find a way to get free.
Tonight was the darkest night. Tonight, Squirrelflight would strike. Tonight, one of her clanmates would die. And there was nothing she could do to stop it. Pinepaw was desperate to get free and save whoever would die tonight. Yet nothing she did loosened the vines. Time ticked by. Nothing happened. Something was wrong. The silence of the forest disturbed Pinepaw. What had happened?
Squirrelflight hesitated before she brought her claws across Brackenfur's throat. A thought was tugging at her mind. If I don't kill anyone for the next two mooons, and then I bring Pinepaw forward and claim that she was the murderer... Squirrelflight mused, Then I would be safe for a little while longer, perhaps forever, if Bramblestar decides to kill Pinepaw. Chuckling silently to herself, she congratulated herself on thinking of a better plan.
Squirrelflight tried to keep the patrols away from the forest border, but Bramblestar intervined. He said that that border had to be patrolled, whether there was a clan there or not. Desperate to make sure her prisoner wasn't discovered, she offered to lead the patrol herself. That way, she could make sure that they didn't go near the ravine. Yet she didn't anticipate how stubborn the rest of the patrol would be.
If only Brackenfur wasn't on the patrol. Squirrelflight knew that the senior warrior sensed something was wrong.
"Are you sure we shouldn't have a look for rogues? Or a fox or badger that may have strayed into our territory?" he pressed. Squirrelflight shook her head, slightly regretting not killing the annoyingly smart golden brown tom.
"The breeze would have blown their scent over." she pointed out. The rest of the patrol was shifting uncomfortably. Squirrelflight growled in fustration. She was the deputy and no-one questioned her. At least she would have that taken care of soon. But she would have to be more careful in covering up her tracks from now on.