For feeding us with so many emotions all while reminding that there is no real enemy.
"FireClan is approaching!" The call echoed around camp, and I didn't waste anytime dropping my rather aloof conversation with Rainpaw immediately.
"Of course it wouldn't take them any time to get into trouble," Rainpaw sighed, "Although WaterClan really isn't in a state at the moment where we should have to deal with these buggers as well," She frowned, before pushing herself up to her paws, and paddling out of the den quickly.
Without much hesitation I followed her, rage pulsing through me as I did so. The call sounding through camp hadn't been too urgent-I figured it was just a patrol-but that didn't excuse FireClan for intruding on our territory. We had more than enough to worry about at the moment, what, with a dark omen from a flying mouse about an enemy within but somehow the foxhearts had the ability to bother us even now.
As I quickly paddled out of the apprentice den, and into the entrance to camp, I noted that a squad of WaterClan's best fighters, Bramblestar and Wetstream had lined up, teeth bared, prepared for the FireClan patrol to reach camp.
The rest of the Clan was waiting around the edges of the clearing, all with unsheathed claws and angered expressions awaiting FireClan to approach.
The moments seemed drawn out as a patrol consisting of ten busted through the clearing. I was able to identify Hawkstar, the deputy Treebranch, the cat that had murdered Riverclaw and an apprentice I remembered beating up really badly during our most recent battle which had been against Star.
I could already tell this was going to be trouble.
However, as soon as they were within the walls of camp, before the WaterClan cats even had a chance to pounce Hawkstar quickly indicated for them to hold with her tail.
"We come in peace," She offered.
There was a skeptical feeling among the Clan. FireClan did not ever come in peace. It wasn't how the forest had been set up-FireClan was always the enemy as we had learned after their teaming up with StarClan, and WaterClan never get to run into them in a friendly manner.
Her voice was so grave, everyone actually stopped to look at her, as she sucked in a deep breath and turned to face Bramblestar, "We come for help."
This time, the camp went dead silent. FireClan asking WaterClan for help'. It wasn't something I ever thought I would live the day to see. It wasn't something I thought anyone would live the day to see.
"What are you and what have you done to FireClan?" Bramblestar raised an eyebrow and Hawkstar ducked her head sheepishly. Hawkstar. Sheepish. Wow. Wow. Woooow.
What was going on?
I turned to Rainpaw skeptically and she shrugged, seeming just as confused as me. The look in her eyes made it clear she would never have suspected this. Even Bramblestar was wide-eyed.
"FireClan would be in your debt."
"StarClan what is happening?" I whispered as Bramblestar seemed thoughtful, unsure of what to make of the situation before she offered a slow nod.
"Send your patrol back, Hawkstar," She ordered, "And you alone may come to speak to me in my den. If this really is so desperate you'll be willing to take this risk, I presume."
She dipped her head, another surprise. I watched, alongside the whole Clan, as Hawkstar followed Bramblestar into her den, prepared to discuss, and wondering what the state of the forest was to become.
"WaterClan," The next sunrise Bramblestar was standing before us, her gaze tight and a little uncertain even, which was rare for her, and her posture perfected as she glanced down at us all from where she stood on the HighRock. Something was about to unravel, I could tell.
"Cats of WaterClan," She repeated, "I'm here right to ask a favor of you; not a favor for a Clanmate, for I, or for some strangers even. I'm here to ask you guys with a favor to FireClan."
The moment those words erupted the Clan burst into commotion. I felt myself going numb, gaze trained on Bramblestar, in disbelief. FireClan. What had FireClan done to deserve a favor? And from us, nonetheless! We owed them no favor, and knowing them the chances were it was a trap as opposed to a favor!
"I will have silence!" Bramblestar roared, and the whole Clan was taken aback. If Bramblestar was yelling things were serious.
"Now," She released a soft breath, "I know things have been rough between the two Clans as of late, but please understand this is the right thing to do. The remainder of Star's loners have engaged in war against them, and FireClan alone is not enough to put up against them. We have a common enemy to unite against."
"That common enemy is FireClan!" A loud voice cried.
"No," Bramblestar replied, "FireClan is a rival-a fierce, dirty rival that cheats but a rival. We are both Clans-we are like siblings who just can not get along. We are not enemies, as much as we disagree with each other."
The Clan was silent, and I wasn't sure if I believed or if I didn't believe in what Bramblestar was saying. I felt confused, my head was throbbing and the news was hitting me too fast.
"Hawkstar came and begged us for help, so I agreed to send three patrols-consisting of eight cats each, to help them during what she hopes will be their final showdown. If a cat feels really uncomfortable going, in which case I would be terrible disappointed, then they may come to me and I will find someone else to go for them."
There were quick murmurs among the Clan and Bramblestar silenced them with a flick of her tail, as she began to list off the cats that were going. When I was announced to be on one of the three patrols I wasn't really sure what to make of it.
Do I want to fight for FireClan?
"We join them tomorrow during midday," Bramblestar claimed. She too was going on the patrol while leaving Wetstream behind alongside Redpoppy to guard camp, "I want any cats on the patrols to rest until then."
She dismissed the Clan with a flick of her tail, and most of the cats immediately began to disperse, murmuring among themselves about the latest new.
I thought back to what Bramblestar had said, back to what FireClan had done to us, back to what we had done to FireClan. It didn't sound like a sibling relationship to me. That was unless one of them(FireClan, of course) was a psycho, deranged sibling who had nothing better to do than kidnap the other one.
No, I didn't want to fight for FireClan. But I didn't want to have to ask to be removed from a patrol either-I didn't want to disappoint my Clan. Especially considering their current state it wasn't something I was willing to do-even if that meant fighting alongside FireClan.
"Isn't this cool?" I spun my head around to find Ivypaw bouncing on her paws, specks of excitement dancing around her eyes, and I remember she had been chosen as well, to go on the same patrol as me.
"Not really," I shrugged, "But I'm excited at the chance to get rid of whatever remains of the scumbag Clan that Star was going to use to destroy us."
"Of course you are," She offered me a small smile, "Now we should probably get some rest, as Bramblestar claimed. Tomorrow will be a big day!"
I nodded, following her as she led me out of the clearing at back into the apprentice den where I would likely waste the rest of my day trying to sleep, eating and just chatting about the new partnership with the cats who I had thought were our worst enemy up until that day.
I followed Stargaze as she led our patrol. It didn't feel too much like a battle patrol to me though. As opposed to racing through the trees, or stalking through the undergrowth, we were just casually strolling along. There was a hesitant pause as we reached the border with our rivals, before Stargaze nodded and led us across it. The first patrol, led by Bramblestar, was already in FireClan and they were making plans. We were to come right around the time the battle was to start and the third patrol would arrive somewhere towards the middle or end, as a surprise patrol-and they would also be bringing Razorfanf along with them in case of any severe injuries.
To be fair, I had been rather excited. Over a whole moon had passed since a decent, tale-worthy battle had taken place and I was more than excited to engage in a major conflict.
Our patrol continued to paddle along at a steady pace. As soon as we entered their territory I could feel the sour smell of FireClan territory reached my nose, and I coughed hastily, able to tell by glancing about that my Clanmates found it rather uncomfortable too. I couldn't help but wonder what they thought WaterClan territory smelled like.
It wasn't much longer when we had reached FireClan camp. The place wasn't exactly foreign to me as I'd ben there twice before; once will Rainpaw and I were taken captive and once during the time we rescued Mistypaw and Birdwing from the foxhearts. All of those times FireClan had been our enemy but now they were our ally. As we entered the camp, I noticed Bramblestar and Hawkstar were in the middle-the two brown tabby she-cats had an identical blaze in their eyes as they attempted to make plans, some of the senior warriors gathered around them.
"Stargaze," Bramblestar's head shot up when she noticed us and she offered us a quick smile followed by a flick of her tail, indicating for us to come stand next to them as they discussed.
"We can send FireClan in straight though the entrance to their camp," Hawkstar offered, "And then WaterClan could fly out from behind these bushes." She was pointing at some picture engraved into dirt.
"Or we could try the opposite approach," Bramblestar offered, "Our first patrol could stroll in there-and they might not recognize us as enemies. That gives us the initial advantage of surprise. And then, they would likely end up driving us out of their den, when your patrol and our other one could jump in to give a hand."
"I like that idea better, actually," Hawkstar offered, "I say we go with that one."
"Then we shall," Bramblestar turned to her and the two cats who I had been so sure were arch enemies exchanged a smile. Feeling a little more than dizzy, I watched as Bramblestar beckoned Stargaze with her tail in order to further explain the details to our plan.
"I hope this buddy-buddy thing with FireClan is temporary," I whispered to Ivypaw, who was standing right beside me, "It's scaring me a little."
"It is getting really odd," She claimed, "Although I'm sure things will return to normal after this, you know. The normal 'sibling hate' thing Bramblestar mentioned will come back up until one of us desperately need help again."
I didn't tell Ivypaw that I hardly believed we had a sibling-like relationship with FireClan. It seemed as though the whole Clan had convinced themselves that such was the case but I refused to be fooled as well.
FireClan was an enemy-and that's how it would always remain.
As Stargaze's patrol lined up on one side of the bushes located right outside of the den the remained of StarClan was locating themselves in, I found my shoulder being gently prodded by an unfamiliar gray tail.
Spinning around I found myself facing a FireClan apprentice.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Nothing," he replied with a sigh, golden eyes shinning before deciding that it wasn't nothing, "I just noticed that you don't seem that eager to thank us and I wanted to thank you for doing so anyways."
"No-no problem," I stutter caught off guard by the apology, "It is an enemy we share, so I guess there's no reason for us not to help." Not a complete lie.
"Well thanks for it," he offers me a kind smile, and I'm taken aback. FireClan cats aren't supposed to be kind...
I turn back to stare at the large den from which the first patrol should be erupting out of any moment. I wait, my eyes not averting for what seems to be several long sunrises...
And then, they were out of the den, fighting and slashing. For a moment I was taken aback by the large number of StarClan cats. Then I was leaping, FireClan at my side, into the battle, prepared to shred apart any of the cats that had once come so close to destroying out Clan.
The fight was almost blurry. Unable to find an opponent to latch onto I found myself weaving between cats, striking any that held the scent of StarClan, and reminding myself to avoid the natural instinct to claw those of FireClan.
However, as I pelted through the cats, rage and uncertainty both powering me at once, alongside the strange gratefulness I had received from Gorsepaw, I felt a strong pair of claws making a blow to the back of my head.
For a moment everything was a little dizzy.
And then everything was black.
When I woke up I was in FireClan. I could smell it, could feel in from the strange feeling that was seething through me, could hear the sounds of FireClan cats whispering, could tell as I glanced about what appeared to be a medicine cats den that it wasn't my own.
"You're finally awake!" I turned my head over to find Gorsepaw smiling down at me.
"Why am I in your camp?" I questioned.
"You passed out," He replied, "I dragged you back here, and you were still sleeping or blanked out, I really couldn't tell, by the time we had defeated StarClan and driven them out so we told WaterClan you rest here and you'd go back as soon as you were healed."
"Well I'm healed now," I tried to push myself to my paws, and failed.
"Stay," He claimed, "We're not going to shred your pelt or anything if you stay a moment too long," There was amusement in his gaze as what he said really did strike me.
A FireClan cat had saved my pelt during a battle. They must have seen me fall, gone through the effort of reaching me, carrying me, and even sitting out for a part of the battle to make sure I was alright...
Are they really not all bad?
And as I glanced into Gorsepaw's face, reading his expression I recognized it was genuine. It was sincere. It was worried and compassionate and it wasn't evil... It was caring.
"Alright, I'll stay," I whispered, placing my head back into the nest I had been resting in, aware of Gorsepaw's pleased expression resting on me.
Maybe they were right, I thought to myself, Maybe FireClan really isn't an enemy after all. Maybe they never have been one. The biggest threat, after all, is to come from the insides.
And for the first time I could ever remember I fell asleep that night with pleasant thoughts about FireClan.