Thanks for holding us together this long
When blinked my eyes, heavy with sleep open, Mistypaw was exiting the den, with light and happy pawsteps.
“Hey, Mistypaw!” I called, groaning as I shoved myself back up to my feet, “Wait for meee!”
She turned around, and smiled, rolling her eyes as I tried to blink the last but of sleep out of my eyes, with wobbly footsteps.
“I have to go out for a training session soon though,” she pointed out as we began to head towards the fresh-kill pile, in order to grab something to eat. My stomach churned loudly and Misty gave a large and loud yawn, our heavy pawsteps matching each other.
“When do you think you will become a warrior?” I asked Mistypaw, “You are the oldest among us so you would probably become a warrior first.”
She nodded, a teasing gleam spreading across her face, “And then you would have to do everything I told you to. Like cleaning my den, and bringing me prey as well as respecting me.”
“Warrior not elder,” I rolled my eyes at her, “All you can do is tell us to go to our den. You won’t become an elder until many moons later and we will be warriors, or maybe even leaders by then.”
“Well,” she huffed, “Then I will be the Clan leader and you will all be my warriors so I can still tell you to bring me prey and change my bedding,” she seems pleased and I cuff her gently around the ear.
“Who said you would be Clan leader?” I asked, “I think I make a far better Clan leader than you!”
“Would not!” she protested, “I am older!”
“Well, age doesn't count,” I huffed, “Eclipsepaw is one of the youngest among us, and she makes such a good leader. Besides, I was born with the ability to lead,” I stick my chest out.
She swatted my head, rolling her eyes, “If you say so then it must be, Aquastar.”
As we reached the fresh-kill pile and my stomach let out another groan, I gaped in shock at the empty pile only containing one small mouse.
“What?” I squeaked in a combination of horror and surprise, “Where did all of they prey go?”
“FireClan,” Birdwing had an angry look on her face, and seemed weary as well, “We found their scent all over our territory. We are pretty sure they woke up really early to launch a surprise attack and rob us of all our prey. Now there was hardly anything we could find this morning but that small mouse and two sparrows which we took to the elders right away. Today appears like it will be a challenging day for our apprentices with a more obvious...” she pauses glancing over me with amusement, “Appetite.”
“Unless you eat that,” she claimed indicating towards the final piece of prey, “But I wouldn't recommend that-the kits and queens would probably be hungry.”
“I know,” I sighed feeling my stomach weighing me down, before anger flaring through me, “Stupid FireClan,” I muttered, “Why can’t they ever leave us alone?”
“We've all wondered that,” Birdwing sighed before shrugging, “I was about to go out and hunt, seeing as we don’t have much prey. Would you like to come with me? I’d let you eat whatever you caught, even though it is a hunting patrol. As long as you don’t eat too much.”
“Not possible,” I claimed, “Once I ate three sparrows and a big rabbit in a sitting! I think I made some sort of record!”
“Wasn't very useful to the clan though,” she gave me a playful half-smile which I returned with a grin.
“It won me lots of attention,” I claimed, “The apprentices were all talking about me for half a moon!”
“Attention isn't always a good thing,” she pointed out.
“FireClan has our attention right now,” she reminded me.
“Well...” I stuttered knowing she was right before shrugging, “This was the good kind of attention though.”
“If you say so,” she responded before turning to Mistypaw, “Would you like to come with us?”
“Of course!” Mistypaw jumped, “I’d love to go hunting!”
“Great,” Birdwing smiled, “We will go hunting by the stream. FireClan doesn't know how to fish, so we will have to hope that some fish are bearing the cold waters, or that there are mice and rabbits along the shore which FireClan have decided to let remain untouched.”
We both nodded and followed Birdwing with excitement as she paddled out of camp. Birdwing gave Wetstream, who was speaking to Redpoppy furiously, most likely about FireClan, a friendly wave with her tail which she returned.
“Good luck on your hunt!” she called, “And if you come across any FireClan cats you don’t need our permission to shred them.”
“I won’t ask,” Birdwing claimed.
“Do we get to fight FireClan, then?” I asked her, feeling a rush of excitement, “If they are on our side of the border?”
“They wouldn't be,” she claimed, “Especially not that deep into our territory. Now that we are awake and aware of what they had done, they know we won’t hesitate to attack them.”
“Since when has FireClan been shy towards battle?” Mistypaw pointed out, refusing to let go of our hope to leave some heavy gashes on FireClan cats, “They would probably be itching for a fight.”
“We aren't though,” Birdwing claimed, “As much as I would love one. Bramblestar is going to have a Clan meeting where we will discuss what we have to do. Most likely a fight, but you wouldn't want to waste your energy before we even battle.”
Mistypaw and I nodded, still unable to conceal our energy and excitement. FireClan was starting to become an even bigger problem than before lately and a good battle would put them in their places.
We gently walked towards the stream. Birdwing and Mistypaw appeared to be enjoying the nature and fresh air but all I could even sense was my stomach, begging me to feed it, which just made me want to walk faster.
“I’m hungry,” I moaned out loud, hoping they might catch on.
Birdwing’s whiskers twitched with amusement and she obviously gets the message, “Why don’t you and Mistypaw race?” she offered, her pawsteps still too slow for my stomach, “I’ll catch up to you.”
Mistypaw turned around and grinned at me, “I bet I will win!”
“No I will!” I protested, though I should know better. FireClan is more likely to get off for their thievery than I am to win this race. I am not known for my speed at all.
“I bet one mouse!” she claimed.
“Why do we always have to bet?” I groaned, “That ruins the fun of it and makes it way to serious.”
“You just know you are going to lose,” she replied with a teasing smile.
“Was I really this noisy as an apprentice?” Birdwing’s whiskers twitched with amusement.
“Hey!” we both protested.
She shrugged, “It’s just a race. You don’t need to race or argue. Just run and then brag about it after you have won. I’d be off and running by now.”
“But no one will make any bets after they have lost!” I pointed out, feeling a bit clever until Birdwing purred with amusement and indicates towards behind me, and when I whirled around I see Mistypaw had a running start.
“Hey!” I protested chasing after her, “That’s not fair, you cheater!”
The Clan was smiling at us in deep gratitude by the time we had returned with several pieces of prey in our jaws and still many pieces left behind. We had spent the whole morning hunting and I had ate two fish, although I did feel a little guilty about stealing the prey from my Clan after if was down my stomach.
“Wow,” Sapphireshine smiled at me, as I walked past the clearing, my head held high and prey stuffed in my jaw, “I’m impressed Aquapaw. You have finally managed to prove your hunting skills to me.”
I felt a little guilty for not pointing out that I had caught the least amount of prey, only four pieces, half of which I had eaten, but reminded myself that there was prey in my jaw so there was no way I could possibly inform her of that and lose the wide smile on her face.
The happy chatter of kittens reached my ears as I dumped the prey on the now empty fresh-kill pile, which has nothing left in it. Two cats were eating further off, most likely prey that they caught themselves.
“Is that for us?” Ivorykit, the oldest in her little of three she-kits aske me, “We didn’t get to eat yet today.”
“Take whatever you need,” I smiled as I turned around and headed for the apprentice den, knowing that someone else would pick up my prey which I had buried back near the river.
When I reached the apprentice den, it wasn't empty like it usually was at that time of the day. Instead, the apprentices were all inside chattering furiously. Warmth spread through my body, being in the same room as all my friends before it was washed over with anger, which was sparked again, listening to their conversation.
“I heard them talking about a huge battle!” Nightpaw exclaimed, “Maybe the whole Clan will attack them at once so that everyone gets their share of FireClan fur stuffed into their teeth.”
“I don’t know,” Secretpaw’s angry emotions seemed to keep her from jumping to very hopeful conclusions, “The senior warriors are wise enough to calculate the risk of what might happen if we all leave. The queens and elders alone at camp... It’s the perfect opportunity for FireClan to strike another surprise blow, and for us to discover we have walked into a trap laid perfectly for us.”
“Maybe just a few cats would stay behind,” Snowpaw offered, “The really fast ones so they could quickly run to warn the clan if we were being attacked.”
“I don’t know...” I voice trailed off behind us and I turned around to see Mistypaw, shuffling her feet, “A battle against FireClan will mean certain death. I don’t want cats to die.”
“I don’t mind knocking down some of FireClan’s numbers,” I claimed, “I would like it rather much to kill FireClan cats.”
“Who said all of us would get away without troubles?” Mistypaw asked, “FireClan killed Riverclaw too, remember?”
Nightpaw bristled a little bit at the memory and I quickly paddled over next to her, pressing my flank against hers, trying to offer comfort.
The apprentices were all quiet for a moment and Mistypaw added, “I do want to teach FireClan their lesson.”
“FireClan is so stupid,” Nightpaw scrapped at the ground angrily, “If they want our territory they could ask for it, before declaring war with us. Stealing our prey like that is the simplest way to throw yourself straight into a surprise war.”
“They won’t win though,” Featherpaw claimed from beside Driftpaw who also looked angry, “We will crush them!”
“Why do we have to fight?” Mistypaw asked.
I turned up to look at her in surprise, “Mistypaw, I thought you were excited to hurt FireClan... You always seemed so eager to battle them and jumped at every opportunity on a patrol heading close by.”
“Yeah,” she looked down at her paws, before bringing her head back up defiantly, “I don’t mind fighting them myself, but I’m scared of losing any of you to the battle.”
“We will be fine,” I assured her, “You don’t need to worry about us. Just because you are the oldest apprentice that doesn't mean you are the only one who knows how to fight.”
“FireClan does too,” she pointed out, “And I refuse to pretend that none of my closest friends will get seriously injured or even...” she swallowed, “Killed in the battle.”
We were all silent for a moment before an apprentice shrugged, “Well... it’s a battle. Sacrifices have to be made. And I don’t see why we shouldn't have to pay the price for our freedom from FireClan.”
“You don’t care if one of your friends die?” Mistypaw seemed upset, but no tears leaked through her eyes.
“It’s not that,” the apprentice claimed, “It’s just-”
He was cut off by a loud call coming from outside the apprentice den, made by Bramblestar.
“Would all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the HighRock for a Clan meeting!”
The apprentices were quick to shuffle out of the den, each cat tenser than the other. I felt excitement pulsing through my veins at the sound of battle although I remembered Mistypaw’s words as I looked at the cats around me.
And too many more to name. Defeating FireClan would be fun but nothing was worth more than a single one of my friendships in the Clan. Maybe Mistypaw did have a point, as much as my claws were itching for battle.
Bramblestar had a grave but angered look on her face, and I couldn't help but share it, feeling yet another burst of anger towards the stupid Clan and their terrible ways.
The cats were all quickly gathered. I noticed Birdwing a little further off, looking down at her paws with worry and confusion. I forced myself not to get worried as I turned to look at Bramblestar.
“As many of you know,” she began, “We were robbed of our prey by FireClan this morning. While we were sleeping they all attacked our food, sweeping our territory clean of anything left for us to eat.”
There were several nods from the cats beneath her and she continued.
“We cannot let this pass as well. Next time, FireClan will come to our camp and take prey from the fresh-kill pile, as shamelessly as they stole our prey this time!”
There were yowls of agreement from the cats beneath her, “We will attack tomorrow!” she declared, “I will take many of my warriors and almost all of the apprentices, to give them a feel for the blood that has spilled and stolen so much of ours lately!”
More yowls of agreement followed, including many loud chants from Nightpaw who was standing beside me, obviously excited for a final chance to avenge her mentor, Riverclaw, who had been mercilessly killed by FireClan.
Bramblestar continued flicking her tail, indicating for a ginger cat named Hopeflare, formerly a cat of FireClan who had recently left them to join WaterClan, to the HighRock.
“Hopeflare knows FireClan territory,” she explained, “So she will lead us through places where we can go unnoticed until the attack. I am also aware that several apprentices...” he gaze drifted over Rainpaw and I and I blushed, “Have some experience with the territory.”
“When will we attack?” A cat asked.
“At night,” she responded calmly, “Right when the sun sets we will attack. They should be eating then and we can catch them by surprise. We will teach them not to steal our prey again!”
More yowls of agreement arose from the cats, and I wondered whether I should be happy, or as obviously worried as Mistypaw, who had a concerned look in her eyes a little further off, was.
Bramblestar smiled, “I guess it’s settle the-”
The whole Clan turned around in surprise, looking to see who had made the comment, and found Mistypaw, staring at her leader boldly.
“Is something wrong Mistypaw?” Bramblestar asked, “I’m sorry, but I can’t promise anyone any part in the battle. Although chances are most apprentices will be going.”
“I want to fight,” she claimed loudly, but almost softly at the same time, “And I want to teach FireClan that they can’t mess with me or my Clan...” she paused, “But I don’t want my friends to fight.”
“You surely don’t plan to take them all alone, do you?” Bramblestar asked her eyes curious, “That would be an attempt to kill yourself.”
“No,” she sighed, “I don’t think we should take this to battle at all.”
There were calls of protest but Bramblestar studied Mistypaw expectantly, “Please explain,” she offered, “I’m listening.”
“Well,” she paused, “We aren't fighting any group of rogues or a Clan that follows the rules it once did before, when we lived in peace. FireClan has steered off the warrior code and they don’t care for it at all.”
“Part of the reason we plan to attack,” Bramblestar pointed out before letting my friend continue.
“They are strong and organized as well as plenty in numbers,” Mistypaw pointed out, “We might be able to win but not without loss. Isn't that what they want? They want us to go through pain and suffering for a reason we don’t know. By going to battle we are giving into their wishes. Because we won’t be able to escape it without deaths and casualties. I want to keep my friends by my side. I can’t afford to lose them because we fell into a trap set up by FireClan so easily. Even if we win the battle, they will have scored a moral victory, because among the many things that make FireClan different from us, the greatest is the way we care for each other. The way that one when of us has been hurt and when the group has been hurt; one of us has been hurt. If one of us is injured to a point where they are clinging to life or have been killed we have all suffered a huge defeat. The chances of one of us falling to FireClan is very likely,” she paused, “And no matter how many more of them we kill, we haven’t won until every last one is dead. They have one when a single one of us has reached StarClan.”
Bramblestar seemed thoughtful, “What do you suggest we do then?” she asked, “We can’t just let this slide or they will continue to do this. Even if it was to aggravate us, we can never let them think it is okay to steal our prey.”
“What if...” Mistypaw paused, “We sent someone to FireClan to deliver a message saying that we would take it to battle if necessary and warning them of our strength if they chose to continue. That way we would avoid battle and they would know it was not okay.”
Bramblestar seemed lost in thought, uncertain of what to say or do.
“I agree with Mistypaw,” Birdwing stood from the other side of the clearing, “And she has a good point. We shouldn't attack but, instead, send a message.”
Eclispepaw also stood and came to stand by Mistypaw, supporting her friend, to be followed by Secretpaw and Ivypaw, who had a defiant gleam in her eyes. Being newer to the Clan was probably greater reason for her to wish avoiding battle.
A couple warriors stood too, nodding with agreement towards Mistypaw and I couldn't help smiling. I remained sitting though, unsure what to do, and soon understanding that enough cats agreed with Mistypaw, to the point where a comment from me wouldn't make a difference.
Bramblestar smiled, “I’m proud to lead this clan,” she claimed, before nodding, “Very well. I refuse to let FireClan win. Mistypaw and Birdwing can go alone to FireClan territory to deliver a message to Hawkstar. If they have not stopped stealing prey by tomorrow night we will be left with no other choice.”
The cats nodded and Bramblestar smiled, “They will not overpower us, nor defeat us. We have a strong weapon they never will,” she claimed, “Love.”
And looking around me, at the cats I had come to know so well, from Mistypaw who seemed so excited to be delivering a message and to have changed Bramblestar’s mind, to Nightpaw who refused to look to upset about the change in choice, to Ashpaw grooming herself in the corner of the clearing, I didn’t doubt it the slightest bit.