Episode 5, Season 2 of Home. Enjoy and please tell me what you think :)
Dedicated to Strikeh
I doubt that I will ever come across someone as amazing but yet modest as you
I raced after Eclipsepaw and Nightpaw, my paws struggling to keep up to them as we raced through the woods.
“Come on, Aquapaw!” Nightpaw gently called and I huffed loudly, forcing my paws to move faster.
“Where are we even going?”
“I actually don’t know,” Nightpaw admitted with a gentle shrug as we continued to paddle through the long weeds, “All the other apprentices told me to meet them by the FireClan border.”
I sighed gently, knowing that I should have expected this when I fell asleep really late the previous night, fidgeting after the long battle against Star which had taken place that day.
Today, since all of the warriors had to help repair camp and hunt the apprentices got the day off, while all being expected to bring back at least two pieces of prey for the Clan.
It was quite generous of them, and of course, we wouldn't let the opporutiny go without some dramatic meeting where we would so something…
To be honest it deeply disturbed me that I hadn't been there to help plan the stupid event which would probably get us all in huge trouble.
“What if FireClan tries to attack us?” Eclipsepaw gently prompted, “They aren't the friendliest Clan.”
“That’s true,” Nightpaw shrugged, “But they have been really quiet ever since we whopped them during the rescue and I think Hawkstar is hiding out now that her secret about collecting kit whiskers has finally been proven true by a witness.”
I stared fiercely at the ground to keep myself from giggling.
“I still don’t get why you were looking for kit whiskers while you were on a mission to save Mistypaw,” Ecplisepaw gently admitted.
“I wasn't looking for them,” Nightpaw claimed, “I just saw them there. And I know they were kit whiskers!”
Eclipsepaw shrugged but a smile of suspicion still lingered on her face, “If you say so.”
“I know so,” Nightpaw responded.
I continued to stare at the ground knowing Nightpaw would kill me later on if I ruined her act.
“How much longer?” I gently moaned, feeling my paws beginning to grow sore from the long morning’s walk.
“Almost there,” Eclipsepaw claimed gently picking up the pace and causing me to groan in frustration.
“I know this was Ashpaw’s idea, if it makes you feel any better,” Nightpaw shrugged gently, “If Ashpaws doing it it’s something that Rainheart won’t want us to be doing.”
“That’s great,” I claimed, “It just would have been nicer if she chose something a little closer to camp.”
“Lazy,” Nightpaw teased.
“I’m not lazy!” I felt myself loudly protesting, though I wasn't quite sure I believe the words myself.
“Of course not.”
“Finally,” I huffed, as Nightpaw, Eclipsepaw and I finally reached the edge of our border with FireClan where dozens of apprentices were gathered.
“When are some of us going to become warriors already?” I heard myself murmuring, “Our den will pop soon.”
“Maybe if some more apprentices come we will get to sleep in the warriors’ den soon because there will be no more room left in ours!” Eclipsepaw suddenly offered, and I felt excitement at the possibility surging through me.
“I call sleeping in the middle of the den!” I exclaimed.
“If,” Nightpaw reminded me, “Although I don’t see Rainheart approving of that sleeping arrangement.”
“Who cares about what Rainheart thinks,” I replied, unable to control my sudden excitement at the possibility.
“Finally Eclipsepaw, Aquapaw and Nightpaw are here!” I turned around to see Ashpaw approaching us, amusement available in her tone, “Where were you guys?”
“Aquapaw held us back,” Nightpaw responded with a light twitch of her whiskers.
Before I could respond with a loud “did not!” Ashpaw purred gently, “I should have known.”
I rolled my eyes at her.
“So what are we doing, anyways?” Eclipsepaw asked gently, her eyes shifting around the pack of gathered cats.
“We’re going to play a game,” Ashpaw’s eyes light up with excitement as she continued, “A dare game.”
“What kind of dares?” I questioned.
Ashpaw shrugged, “Whichever dare you receive.”
It almost felt a little kit-like, and I probably would have refused had we still been in camp, but out by the FireClan border it felt more real.
“Alright,” I licked her, “When do we start?”
“Now,” Ashpaw replied with a grin, flicking her tail at us indicating for us to follow her towards the circle of apprentices, “We were waiting for you.”
I felt three pairs of eyes resting on my pelt.
“It’ not my fault I’m slow,” I felt myself gently whispering, trying to avoid their accusing, but gentle, gazes.
Rainpaw quickly bounded over to us, a little jump in every step as she ran over, excitement shinning in her eyes.
“I bet I’ll win,” she claimed.
“Of course, I will.”
“You’ll get second place,” I claimed, barely managing to keep myself on my paws after stumbling over a stone.
Once the four of us had joined the group of apprentices all mingling with each other, speaking loudly of their mentors, how they beat up one of Star’s cats in the battle when they probably barely made a scratch, and what a horrible cat Rainheart was and how they had been wrong about her being FireClan.
Instead, they were whispering, she must be one of Star’s most important warriors, and a spy at the same time.
I felt a little guilty when I didn’t have much trouble placing the image in my head, although I did hate Ashpaw’s mentor, like all of the other apprentices in the Clan.
It didn’t take long for the chatter to gently lower and all eyes to turn to Ashpaw who seemed a little nervous facing so many cats, and I couldn't blame her.
“Who wants to start?” she gently offered.
“Me,” Driftpaw exclaimed from her place beside Fuzzypaw.
Ashpaw nodded, "Alright."
Driftpaw’s eyes wondered along the line of apprentices for a moment before resting on Flamepaw.
“I dare you to call Robinwing fat,” she claimed, “And you can’t run away right after you do it.”
Robinwing was the oldest, but rudest and crankiest elder in WaterClan, the one who many of the kits had nightmares about the nights before it was their time to become an apprentice and clean his bedding or check his pelt for any ticks.
He was a terrible, terrible cat.
“No!” Flamepaw, who had only been an apprentice for a moon, seemed horrified at the prospect, “He doesn't even know me yet, and then he might begin to judge me for telling the truth about his weight.”
And it was true, the old elder probably had the largest appetite in the whole Clan, except for me, of course.
“Then Flamepaw losses,” Ashpaw claimed, “Unless, of course, she changes her mind within the next few seconds.”
“No,” Flamepaw seemed certain of her choice, “I want to make a better impression on the rest of the Clan.”
“My turn!” I heard Nightpaw gleefully shimming in, and her eyes held the signs of something very mischievous that was approaching.
There was a tight silence, and I could instantly tell that Nightpaw had chosen Eclipsepaw, deciding against trying to scare the new apprentices by making them do something that wouldn't be taken well by the rest of the Clan.
“I dare you to sneak into FireClan camp, enter Hawkstar’s den and prove to us that he does not have kit whiskers, since you don’t believe me.”
“No way,” Eclipsepaw’s eyes widened.
“And,” Nightpaw added, a whole new flare reaching her eyes, “You have to take Aquapaw with you.”
“Are you trying to get me killed?” Eclipsepaw looked bewildered and Nightpaw gently giggled.
“Hey!” I found myself loudly protesting, not all that surprised but still feeling a little accused of being used to make the job harder for others, “I actually know the territory and have sneaked into her den on a mission before so I will make this easier for her.”
“And you did a marvelous job staying quiet and stealthy without the help of Hopeflare,” Rainpaw added.
I shrugged, feeling my face turning red.
“Well,” Nightpaw prompted Eclipsepaw, “Are you going to take the dare, and prove me right, or lose?”
Eclipsepaw seemed in a gentle thought for a moment and I thought for a moment she was going to decline, until she finally sighed.
Disappointment flickered across Nightpaw’s gaze for a moment, but she quickly covered it up, although I could still make out a sense of anxiety on her face; fear that we might make it and Eclipsepaw might ruin her act of the past months.
I found a lot of sympathy in me for Nightpaw at the moment, mostly because I liked the fact that I was one of the few apprentices who actually knew the truth, although I wouldn't be willing to fail the given dare just to keep the pride of that fact.
“So do we just go now?” Eclipsepaw asked and Nightpaw nodded, trying to put on a confident face.
I exchanged a quick glance with Ashpaw, who had a cautious look on her face, and I wondered if it was he secret being revealed that she was worrying about or two apprentices trespassing on enemy territory.
“Let’s go then,” Eclipsepaw gently turned to me and I gave her a gentle shrug, following her as we gently crossed the border.
“It’s so quiet,” I whispered, feeling my voice gently echo across the trees as Eclipsepaw and I paddled along, not the single noise of a cracking twig bothering to disturb us.
“It is strange,” Eclipsepaw agreed gently, as I sparrow gently tweeted in the distance, “It almost feels abandoned.”
“But surely we would know if FireClan left,” I murmured gently.
“Yeah,” Eclipsepaw nodded, “They still mark their borders, although I guess they do them at midnight because nobody has seen them marking their borders in quite a while.”
“I wonder if something is up,” I gently murmured, “And how long it had taken us to realize what actually happened.”
“You think it wasn't their defeat that caused them to leave us alone for a little while?” Eclipsepaw asked me, turning her head curiously.
“I don’t know,” I replied, “But this doesn't feel right. Even if they are scared of us, and they should be scared of me after how well I fought against Hawkstar, they should have enough pride to at least tell us to get out.”
“They should,” Eclipsepaw agreed, “Or maybe they are having an important Clan meeting right now, which is why no one is outside of camp.”
“We’ll see,” I responded, trying not to let my anxiety shine through, and gently following Eclipsepaw as we continued to paddle through the intensely silent territory of FireClan.
The camp wasn't completely empty when Eclipsepaw and I gently gazed at it from behind the bushed which were a fair enough distance away.
But it was still quite vacant.
“Half the Clan appears to be gone,” she observed, pausing for a moment, “Maybe they got hit by a plague.”
“I don’t know,” I replied, “Do you want to go in and just get this over with? It should probably be easier now since there aren't as many warriors as usual.”
“Alright,” Eclipsepaw nodded.
We were quiet for a moment, as the sounds of our breathing were the only noises that reached us.
And then we began to creep towards the entrance to camp. We had already rolled in a pile of fox dung so our scent wouldn't be that of a WaterClan cat until we washed it off.
Before we could even make it to the entrance, however, we were cut off by a loud screeching noise and the two of us turned over to see a group of five, very angry FireClan cats.
“Hello,” I squeaked.
“Off our territory,” one of them growled.
“Why is your camp so quiet?” I was surprised with how bold and calm Eclipsepaw could sound when we were about to be torn into pieces by FireClan.
There was a flash of worry in his eyes.
“None of your business,” he snarled.
“Did you get hit by a disease?” I quickly jumped in, curiosity and a little bit of anxiety taking over.
“Stay out of it, kittens,” he snarled again.
“Why?” I asked, knowing I probably should have turned around and ran, but deciding to stay and aggravate them even further anyways, “Is it something that will make your Clan look weak? Don’t worry because we already know that your Clan is very weak.”
So maybe it wasn't the smartest thing to say when you are in enemy territory facing five well-trained, full-grown warriors when I was merely an apprentice.
But that didn’t mean they had to pounce on top of me, weighing so much I could barely breathe and hold their claws on top of my back.
“Stop!” Eclipsepaw shrieked.
“Make us,” The tom snarled at her, and I could feel the claws reaching my back, as I tried to suck in deep breaths of air under his heavy, muscular weight panting.
For a moment it appeared as if Eclipsepaw was going to pounce on top of the tom, something that would surely result in severe injury, and, if the tom was feeling particularly nasty, a possible death.
Guessing by the fact he was sitting on me he was feeling particularly nasty.
“Just go, Eclipsepaw,” I whispered hoarsely.
But it seemed she had no intentions to do the such.
Instead she let out a fierce cry, as she unsheathed her claws and leaped at the tom that had placed himself on top of me, with an angry cry, and I couldn't help admiring the she-cat courage.
As soon as the tom was off me, I jumped up to my paws, and clawed at his back, which was facing me while his forepaws were trying to smack Eclipsepaw.
He let out a roar of pain, Eclipsepaw gently dashed around him, and the two of us began to run away from the pack of cats that were now furiously following us.
“They stopped following us,” Eclipsepaw whispered, “This isn't FireClan at all, though. They would follow us into our own territory a few moons ago.”
“I agree,” I nodded quickly, before gently turning to face her, shifting my paws gently, “Thanks, by the way.”
“For what?” she seemed confused.
“Saving me back there when you could have ran,” I replied gently keeping my gaze rested on her.
“Of course I wasn't going to leave you,” Eclipsepaw rolled her eyes, “I know you would have done the same.”
“I can’t know until I am put in that situation,” I replied, “And for a moment, I didn’t think you would. I don’t know... that I would have, even with you at stake. And I really admire you for being that brave and noble, Eclipsepaw. Especially when you are one of the greatest among the apprentices.”
“I refuse to believe that,” Eclipsepaw smiled at me.
“That’s what makes you so great.”