We've done a lot together, but the thing we have done the most is undoubtedly laughing
I felt sharp claws piercing my pelt and blood beginning to well on the edge of it as I forced myself to stay focused on the battle before me.
Alongside Secretpaw, I had an advantage over the loner but she was not to be underestimated, for, from what I had observed in the first few moments of battling with her, she was good at fighting.
My pelt already had several long gashes alongside it. Secretpaw had a cut across her cheek, but Star was untouched.
Still, we were pushing her further and further back, trying to get her as far away from the border as possible.
We would not let her reach WaterClan.
Secretpaw and I had already agreed that if it took our lives protecting our Clan from the eerie loner then so be it.
However, it didn’t appear as if she would be strong enough to take our lives, or even defeat us at the moment.
Which, to be honest, was a huge relief.
Not that I would ever admit it when retelling the tale to the rest of the apprentices about how bravely we fought the strange cat that demanded access into WaterClan.
You can never tell a story without tweaking it, if not the slightest bit.
“Aquapaw, watch out!” Secretpaw screeched shrilly and I ducked just in time, as a pair of sharp claws barely missed my head.
I let out a relieved sigh, as I gently swayed on my paws for a moment, before striking her back, trying to bowl the she-cat over.
She was heavier than she let on, however, and had soon flipped me over, causing the need for Secretpaw to jump in and give me a hand.
Star let out a shrill screech as Secretpaw’s claws burrowed deeply into her pelt and she began to shed her first drops of blood from the battle, shaking it off wildly.
I almost gasped, however, when I saw it, gently hitting the grass. It had a luminescent blue flare to it, that made me all the more confident it had been wise not to let Star join the Clan.
Something was just not right about her.
“What is that?” Secretpaw asked, gazing at the blood in profound confusion and awe combined.
“Blood,” Star responded dully before flipping over, and smacking Secretpaw with her paw while crushing me under her weight.
“Get off!,” I mumbled as Secretpaw was flung off her, and she quickly jumped back onto her paws and snarled at me.
I felt her hot breath on my neck for several long moments, as she barred her teeth before Secretpaw jumped back into the battle.
“Give up!” Star hissed, as she tried to swat Secretpaw away with her claws, while I pushed myself back up to my paws.
“Never!” Secretpaw responded, as she dodged a fatal blow and sent another one Star’s way which she managed to avoid as well.
As I rushed to help them, I felt my foot getting caught in something sticky and looked down to see three droplets of blood.
They still hadn't melted into the grass yet, staining them a color. Instead they floated above it, still blue and still glimmering under the sunlight.
I forced myself to turn back to the battle, but before I could jump in again I heard a loud cry sounding from behind me and whirled around to find a party of several apprentices and warriors quickly leaping over the fence (and I couldn’t help but notice, not tripping when they did so).
They quickly ran to Secretpaw, and with aided her in her fight against star with their claws until she had been forced against the walls of a twoleg house, outnumbered and outmatched.
“You have lost,” Secretpaw whispered, “Now you should probably tell us who you are and why you have blue blood.”
“She has blue blood?” Driftpaw was near the front of the patrol, her eyes curious and yet confused, “How is that possible?”
“Anything is possible,” Star twitched her whiskers with amusement.
“I advise you to speak to us now, so that you won’t have to do most of the talking when we take you to our leader,” Hopeflare stepped out from among the cats, all of which must have been on a patrol when they heard the noises of the battle.
“No!” I yelped scampering up to them, “That’s exactly what she wants! You can’t do that!”
“Do what?” Hopeflare looked at me, with an odd expression on her face.
“Take her to camp,” I claimed, “She wants to reach our territory. That’s what we were fighting her over!”
Hopeflare’s ears twitched for several long moments, “Are you sure?” she asked me, “We would be escorting her.”
“I back Aquapaw,” Secretpaw claimed instinctively. I nodded and we starred at Hopeflare for several long moments before she sighed, and opened her jaw to say something before being cut off by Star.
“You won’t be doing anything with me,” she claimed, “I go where if I want and you aren't taking me anywhere. Not if I can help it.”
“You can’t,” Driftpaw claimed frankly.
“Of course I can,” she whispered with a twitch of her ears, before flicking her tail with such force she could have been a Clan leader.
All was silent for a moment as we all stared at Star expectantly, while nothing happened.
Then several cats erupted out of the bushes surrounding the house, flinging themselves onto us.
I felt blood welling on my face, as I received a harsh scratch and strands of fur stuck in my eyes.
“Don’t let her escape!” Hopeflare called, through mumbles shrieks of the battle, “Aquapaw, Driftpaw, Secretpaw, follow her! We will hold off the other cats!”
I dodged as a cat flung themselves at me, my paws gliding over the grass quickly, before I followed Driftpaw and Secretpaw as they chased Star, who was running rapidly through the fields.
We can’t lose her now. We have to find out who she is and what she wants from us.
“Come on!” Secretpaw yowled as I quickly bounded after them, my long legs not moving me as quickly as they should be, even when I was running at my fastest to catch up to a threat that opposed our Clan.
There was one loud question still ringing through my head as I struggled to keep up with Driftpaw and Secretpaw who could barely keep Star within their sights.
Who is she?
I knew her name. I knew she was a loner, but there was something behind her that she wasn't letting us know.
Something increasingly strange.
Her eyes, the shivers she gave you, how confident she was about everything, her shimmering pelt, her blood and how hard it was to actually injure her. None of it felt right.
In a sense, she was too perfect.
But it seemed to be that the dangerous part wasn't how perfect she was. It was how well she knew that fact.
And how she chose to use it.
I felt my paw steps quickening as the sound of battle died away and I prayed to StarClan that my Clanmates would be fine.
I began to feel guilty for even sneaking out in the first place, causing us to find Star but I realized that it probably wouldn't have mattered.
She would still try to come to the Clan anyways.
And perhaps, no one would have been there to stop her.
I shuddered gently, ignoring my stinging paws as I barged through the grass, letting the wind gently smack my face.
I soon caught up to Driftpaw and Secretpaw but they had lost Star by then, leaving us clueless as to where we should go.
“We can’t return until we get Star,” Secretpaw claimed and we both nodded, while Driftpaw tried to pick up the loners scent.
“I am not getting anything,” she claimed, “Except for our own scents. Do you think she even has one?”
“It’s possible she doesn't,” I shrugged, realized that if a cat had shiny, blue blood that floated on the grass, they could probably paddle around without carrying a scent.
“Then what should we do?” Driftpaw questioned pulling her nose out of the grass which she had been tenderly sniffing for a scent.
“Maybe we could go back and try to follow one of her warriors which might lead us to her,” I offered.
The two other apprentices nodded, getting the logic behind my plan and I felt a small flower of satisfaction blooming.
“Then let’s go!” I claimed, taking the lead as we began to walk back the way we had come from, in search of one of the many loners who had attacked our warriors.
“I wonder where she found such a large lot,” Secretpaw murmured as we paddled calmly through the grass, “I mean, there are a lot of cats around here, but not enough that would just agree to follow her.”
“Maybe they didn’t agree,” Driftpaw offered.
We were all silent after that.
Our footsteps were soft and I could tell, with a soft pang of worry but an even greater one of relief that the battle was over.
And as we approached the scene it appeared that we had one. Most of the fur was not recognizable and I couldn’t scent any cats but those of WaterClan near the fence which drew the border between the twoleg place and our Clan.
Our Clan was victorious.
For now, at least.
“Come on!” Secretpaw called to me, as the two apprentices gently began to sniff, trying to pick out the scent of one of the cats that had helped Star escape so that they could track down their scent in hopes that it would lead us to the strange loner.
If everything went as we needed it to.
“I've got a strong scent!” Driftpaw interrupted my thoughts, “I think this would be a good one to follow!”
Secretpaw and I quickly paddled up to her, sniffing the patch of fur she had gently placed on her paw before nodding.
“Let’s hope this takes us to Star,” I whispered.
“I have a question...” Secretpaw gently whispered, “What are we going to do when we finally find Star.”
“We will worry about that when we get there,” I claimed, pushing past the two of them, as I tried to pick out the scent, “For now let’s worry about actually finding Star.”
Secretpaw nodded, with a slight ‘don’t-say-I-didn’t-warn-you’ shrug and I gently paddled towards the direction from which I could feel a familiar scent.
“The scent trail ends here,” I gently whispered as we all gently pulled to a stop, letting the gentle breeze flow through our pelts.
“Are you sure?” Driftpaw asked calmly sniffing the air.
“I’m sure,” I responded.
“Sure you are,” A voice whispered from behind the three of us, and we all whipped around at once to find ourselves facing a large group of cats. But I could only make out one, in the far back, hiding behind all the others.
I snarled fiercely as I felt a gentle tail tip touching mine and looked to the side to see Secretpaw.
“We can’t fight them all,” she claimed.
I nodded, “We wouldn't stand a chance in a battle. We have to run before they can injure us.”
“How, though?” Driftpaw asked, “They have cornered us.”
We were all silent for several long moments, before, from behind them all, Star whispered, “Give them our offer.”
One of the cats in the front nodded, “We will let you go,” he claimed, “Under one slight condition.”
The three of us exchanged nervous glances as my pelt burned with guilt as I realized how foolish I had been not to think this through.
“What is it?” Driftpaw asked them calmly.
“If one of you agree to stay with us, we will let the other two of you go,” he claimed gently, and I could see a flash of guilt and regret appearing in his eyes.
“What?” Secretpaw spluttered, “What is the benefit for you in this, when you could capture all of us?”
“The others can go back to warn the Clan,” his muzzle was shut tightly together, “We will give you a little while to decide and if you don’t agree we take you all.”
We gently turned towards each other.
“This is my fault,” I whispered.
“It’s fine,” the two assured me gently, as we stood in silence for long moments. We knew it was a deal we would have to take. That wasn't the real question.
It was who they would be taking.
Finally, Driftpaw broke the silence.
“I’ll let them take me,” she claimed, and seeing our horrified looks she tried to calm us with a swift flick of her tail, “I will be fine,” she promised, “Don’t worry about me. The Clan will soon come to show Star a lesson anyways.”
“I won’t let you,” I claimed, and Secretpaw nodded in agreement.
“One of us has to,” her look was grave, “And I know you won’t let Secretpaw do it either. I won’t let either of you stay.”
I let out a low sigh, “Fine, Driftpaw, you can stay.”
A sad smile spread across her face and she gave us soft licks, “Don’t beat yourselves up for this,” she whispered, “Soon the Clan will be back to save me and you can be on the patrol.”
We nodded softly.
“You’re so brave,” Secretpaw whispered and I nodded gently, while Driftpaw blushed at the praise.
“As are you,” she claimed, and swiftly flicked her tail, “Now you should probably go before they decide to take you as well.”
Secretpaw and I nodded, touching noses with her one last time, before turning around and heading away, back to the Clans, leaving our brave friend to deal with Star.
This battle with the loner was far from over.
And she would soon realize what a mistake it was to take a cat as precious to the Clan as Driftpaw.