|Fighting For Worth Series|
The Final Hurdle
|The Rogue's Revenge||Succeded by: |
- 1 Blurb
- 2 Prologue
- 3 Chapter One
- 4 Chapter Two
- 5 Chapter Three
- 6 Chapter Four
- 7 Chapter Five
- 8 Chapter Six
- 9 Chapter Seven
- 10 Chapter Eight
- 11 Chapter Nine
- 12 Chapter Ten
- 13 Chapter Eleven
- 14 Chapter Twelve
- 15 Chapter Thirteen
- 16 Chapter Fourteen
- 17 Chapter Fifteen
- 18 Chapter Sixteen
- 19 Epilogue
- 20 Author's Note
After the three Clans unite, it seems that there is peace. But less than a moon after he rises to leader, Mudstar has to face a new threat.
The former VineClan cats who refused to join TwigClan are seeking revenge. They're attacking all the cats - viciously. Can Mudstar put an end to it?
Follow the aftermath of the prophecy that united three, and see more of the characters that changed the Clans.
A yowl rang through the TwigClan camp. Cats turned towards the entrance. Two cats stood there - both toms.
"How was it?" shouted a black she-cat. Her spiky fur stood out in all directions.
"Not good," replied the first, a sturdy black tom. As he spoke, a few cats came into the entrance.
"What do you mean, not good?" retorted the black she-cat angrily.
"Hollyheart, calm down!" a cat yowled from the crowd. A wave of anxious murmurs followed the cat's words.
"Silence!" yowled a brown-and-white tom, and all the cats fell silent at once. The cat was lying on a sheer wall of rock at one end of a camp. One useless, black twisted paw hung over the edge of the drop.
"Explain," continued the brown-and-white cat, after all the cats settled down.
"Some cats don't like the idea of joining TwigClan," answered the other cat, a ginger-and-brown tom. "They refuse to accept Fallingstar's passing. They ran off, swearing revenge on us."
"But how can they have revenge, Beechsand?" interrupted Hollyheart, while the TwigClan cats started to speak among themselves again.
"Silence!" yowled the brown-and-white tom again, and the cats - once again - obeyed.
"Well, how can they have revenge?" repeated Hollyheart quietly. "I mean, if Beechsand and Blackfang told them, they must be thinking strange! Surely they would believe their own Clanmates?"
"Maybe they mentioned Mudfoot," growled a ragged-furred, pale gray tom with black ears. The cat's gaze moved towards the cat on the rocky structure.
"No," said Blackfang quickly. "We definitely didn't mention Mudfoot. We just told them your offer."
"Well, what's their problem, then?" growled the pale gray cat again.
The TwigClan cats started to speak among themselves again, and this time, Mudfoot didn't bother to stop them.
"Surely they won't want revenge?" growled a dappled gray cat, his tail lashing.
"You never know," said a black she-cat quietly, edging closer to the dappled cat. "Maybe they will want revenge."
"What about my kits?" fretted a dark ginger she-cat with black stripes. In panic, the queen curled her two kits - one pale ginger, and one gray - closer to her.
"They'll be fine, if they don't attack the camp," replied a brown tabby.
"Silence!" yowled Mudfoot.
The cats - for the third time - fell silent. Mudfoot got unsteadily to his paws, and spoke: "We don't know what is up with these cats. All we can really do is to be prepared." The TwigClan leader's gaze shifted to a pale cat below the face. "Seedgorse, make sure you warn the patrols."
The ginger cat nodded at her leader's words. "I'll make sure of it, Mudfoot."
The cat's voices arose, and Mudfoot watched silently. What was going to be the threat that came to TwigClan?
Tern's tortoiseshell fur bristled in the cooling leaf-fall wind. Staring around the camp, she felt proud of herself. Proud that she was part of a strong group of cats! She couldn't imagine life without them now.
She remembered the day, a quarter-moon ago, when she had been invited to join Vine's Rogues. Why hadn't she decided to be part of a group before?
A voice was yowling in the distance, a voice that Tern didn't recognize. She turned, fur bristling. A cat was there, his brown tabby fur sleek. Two other cats were beside him - a gray she-cat, and a small silver she-cat.
"What are you doing on the territory of Vine's Rogues?" the brown tabby declared loudly. His companions crouched defensively, hissing.
"I wasn't meaning to -" Tern began.
"Oh, so you didn't know that this was our territory?" the gray she-cat snickered. "Get away."
"Oh, no, we don't want that," countered the brown tabby, swishing his sleek tail in the way of the gray cat. "We need more cats for our revenge on TwigClan."
"TwigClan?" Tern echoed. "What's that?"
"Once," said the brown tabby, "we were members of a Clan called VineClan. But our Clan shattered, so we are now Vine's Rogues. We want revenge on the Clan that some of our cats joined - that's TwigClan - so that we can have them back."
"So you want revenge?" Tern replied.
"Aha!" the brown cat yowled triumphantly. "You understand us! If you say so, why don't you join us?"
Tern's paws scuffled the ground. "If you want," she murmured, embarrassed.
"Good." The brown tabby nodded approvingly. "My name is. Claw, and I am the leader of Vine's Rogues. My companions are Petal," Claw's tail swung towards the gray she-cat, "and Wish." Claw's tail moved away from Petal, and in the direction of the silver she-cat, who had watched their conversation silently. "What's your name, by the way?"
"Tern," was her reply.
"Well then, Tern, welcome to Vine's Rogues," Claw purred.
Jolting awake from her daydream, Tern jumped to her paws in surprise. Craning her neck, she turned to see Aspen. The gray-and-brown tom seemed disgruntled.
"Are you doing anything?" Aspen asked. When Tern shook her head, Aspen nodded. "Good. Claw wants you to hunt with him, Brook, and Oliver."
Tern nodded, and trotted over to the other edge of the camp, where Claw, Oliver, and Brook were waiting. Claw nodded to her in acknowledgement as she approached.
"Let's go, shall we?" Claw asked.
Tern wasn't listening. She was taking in the beauty of the camp she was in. A mossy rock stood at the end - that was where Claw spoke during meeting with the group. Dens scattered the edge - most were now unused. Low-lying shrubs covered the area around most of its edge, except at the end, where two rowan trees wrapped in thorns stood. This was the camp entrance.
"Tern? Are you coming or not?"
"Of course I'm coming!" Tern replied, realizing that the rest of the patrol had already gone out of the camp. Spring out of the entrance to catch the patrol, Tern was finally sure she had had found a place where she could have peace.
"By the powers of StarClan, I name these three cats Mottlepaw, Perchpaw, and Brindlepaw."
Mottlepaw's black fur bristled with excitement. He had waited six moons for this moment. And now, it had finally come.
It wasn't how Mottlepaw had thought it originally would be. As a young kit, he had visualized it being in the same camp he was in now, just a whole lot less cats, Emberstar leading her clan with continued pride, other Clans to fight battles with - but no. There were no Clans to fight with now - they had all merged. And that was an event that Mottlepaw would remember with all his life.
"Brindlepaw, your mentor will be Shellfur."
Mudstar's voice dragged Mottlepaw back to what was going on around him - his apprentice ceremony. Nearby, Mottlepaw's tabby sister, Brindlepaw, was stepping towards a large, thick-furred, dappled gray tom.
"Shellfur," Mudstar meowed, "you have shown great courage in facing the unknown. Brindlepaw will be your first apprentice, and I trust for you to pass Brindlepaw the skills that you learnt from Hawktalon."
As Brindlepaw and Shellfur touched noses, Mottlepaw could see a dark brown tabby tom in the crowd nodding approvingly.
"Perchpaw, your mentor will be Shrewstep."
Mottlepaw's brother sprang to his paws. He looked similar to him - just without white streaks on his pelt, and green eyes instead of blue.
Featherdrift says that I look like my father, Mottlepaw thought. I just wish I could have met him.
Before he was born, Mottlepaw's father, Mottlefur, had died defending LeafClan against BranchClan. Hawktalon had been the cat which had killed him. When Mottlepaw was born, Featherdrift had named him Mottlekit, after his deceased father.
Mottlepaw looked up in time to see Perchpaw touching noses with Shrewstep. The elder cat was purring. Meanwhile, Perchpaw's eyes were shining with pride.
It's my turn now, Mottlepaw thought, looking up at Mudstar. Who's my mentor going to be?
"Mottlepaw," Mudstar meowed. Mottlepaw looked up to see the brown-and-white leader's yellow eyes staring hard at him. "Your mentor will be Shadefire."
Well, that was a surprise, wasn't it? Mottlepaw thought sarcastically. She's done so much for the Clan - why wouldn't Mudstar not give her an apprentice?
Mottlepaw managed to shuffle his paws forwards. Meanwhile, Shadefire stepped out from the throng of cats. Her blue eyes were shining with pride.
"Shadefire, you have shown undying loyalty," Mudstar continued. "Mottlepaw will be your first apprentice. I trust that you will share with Mottlepaw the skill and courage you learnt from Birdwind."
Mottlepaw remembered Birdwind. The black she-cat had died after VineClan had attacked the LeafClan cat. After the battle, Shadefire had become a warrior - as well as the two cats whose mentors fell as well - Windswift, and Mudstar himself.
Fur brushed along Mottlepaw's flank. Mottlepaw looked up to see Shadefire, whose blue gaze was burning into him.
Without hesitation, before he could think, Mottlepaw thrusted his nose forward. Shadefire met it with her own, and in response, the cats of TwigClan exploded into cheers.
"Mottlepaw! Perchpaw! Brindlepaw!"
Mottlepaw bathed in the cheers of his Clanmates. Finally, he could learn how to hunt and fight! Finally, he could learn how to -
A loud yowl broke the chorus of joy. Breaking off from his thoughts, Mottlepaw - and all the other TwigClan cats in the clearing - turned towards the camp entrance.
A bright ginger tom with darker patches staggered into the camp, breathing wildly, amber eyes wide. All the cats of TwigClan were stony silent.
"Scatterpaw?" Mudpaw looked irritated. "What's the problem?"
Scatterpaw was still panting. "Rogues - attacking - Fernfire's - border - patrol -" he huffed. And amidst all the shock, Scatterpaw tumbled to the ground, barely moving, and barely breathing.
Claw hissed in fury. TwigClan savages!
Hunting near the border was obviously not the wisest idea he had chosen. Pure coincidence was that they had met up with a TwigClan border patrol. It was an even battle, it seemed - but a fifth cat had fled back to their camp, obviously to get backup support.
This is why I hate them, Claw thought. How could some of my former Clanmates do this to me?
Before the fall of Fallingstar a half-moon ago, he was a happy VineClan warrior by the name of Clawheart. But after VineClan had been shattered - TwigClan's doing - that Claw had turned away from his Clan past. Asking some of his Clanmates to join him had created a small group of eight cats. All of them became rogues with the first part of their warrior name.
Rogues had joined them. Eight more cats had joined them. Now there were seven Vine Warriors - cats that were from the original VineClan - and Rogue Warriors, rogues which had come to join the group known as Vine's Rogues.
Claw found himself staring into the eyes of Fernfire. The dark gray tabby now looked at him with pits of fire in her eyes. Less than a moon ago, they were Clanmates. Now, they were enemies.
He didn't need to show them mercy anymore.
"Vine's Rogues, attack!" Claw snarled. He felt Tern's tortoiseshell pelt brush past him as she leapt into battle. On the other side, Brook and Oliver followed suit.
"TwigClan, attack!" Fernfire yowled in reply. She leapt on the group of rogues he led with no mercy. A black-and-white tom, a brown tabby tom, and a dark ginger she-cat leapt in beside her.
Claw found himself facing the dark ginger she-cat. He recognized her at once. She was Squirrelheart - a former VineClan cat like himself.
"You're a traitor, Clawheart," she hissed, as she raked a paw down his ear. Claw felt his ear bleed - Squirrelheart had torn his ear. "You and all your former VineClan friends. How can you betray the help TwigClan offer to us?"
Claw didn't bother to correct Squirrelheart about his name. "Because I would not want to serve with those former LeafClan and BranchClan cats." He swiped a paw at Squirrelheart's legs, which she nimbly dodged. "They're our enemies."
"You just made them your enemies," Squirrelheart retorted.
"Squirrelheart! You need some help?"
The black-and-white tom trotted over to Squirrelheart, his amber eyes blazing. Claw turned to see Oliver retreating into the bushes, scratches all over his brown tabby pelt. His amber eyes were shocked. Claw was sure he saw him mouth: 'This Clan is savage!'
Claws dug into Claw's pelt. That wasn't wise - he'd just let Squirrelheart and her black-and-white friend attack him.
He felt himself being knocked to the ground. Before he could move, the black-and-white cat had pinned him down, with the help of Squirrelheart. As such, the two cats were shooting very smug looks at him.
"Nice job, Swiftleap," Squirrelheart mewed to the black-and-white cat.
Or, as you should be saying, you are useless, Claw thought bitterly.
A yowl split the air. The fighting ceased. As Swiftleap scrambled off Claw, he leapt to his paws. What was the interruption?
"We've got backup! Do you need us to help sort them out?"
You don't trespass on TwigClan territory and get away with it!
Mudstar let his warriors run ahead of him and fight. He stood at the back, observing the scene.
His Clan was doing well, getting these rogues off the Clan territory. He could see a brown tabby in the distance, licking blood over his many scratches. Meanwhile, the other cats in his Clan were driving off the other cats - one a tortoiseshell, the other two brown tabbies - one evidently larger than the other.
"You don't get away with this!" Grassdew hissed, one of the cats on the original patrol. "No cat goes on TwigClan's land and gets away with it!" His paws sliced down the tortoiseshell she-cat's flank, and she scampered away as Grassdew made a long cut down her side.
Now the rogues were getting easily beaten. They were getting driven back out of the territory. The gray-brown cat was backing away as well; the brown tabby, now under the angry gazes of many different cats, called a halt for his cats to stop fighting.
Mudstar did the same with his cats, then limped in front of the TwigClan warriors. Swiftleap was staring defiantly at the rogues, while Fernfire was working her claws through the ground. All the other cats were motionless, staring at them.
They look familiar... Mudstar thought. Well, some of them do, anyway.
Mudstar was sure he had seen that brown tabby at Gatherings, as well as the gray-brown she-cat. He wondered where he had remembered them from.
He shot a fierce yellow gaze at the rogue group. "What are you doing?" he asked. "And what are your names?"
The brown tabby, who seemed to be at the head of the group, hesitated, before speaking: "My name is Claw," he mewed, half-spitting the words out. "My companions are Brook," Claw pointed at the gray-brown she-cat, "Tern," was the tortoiseshell, "and Oliver." Oliver was the cat who Mudstar had seen lurking at the back of the group earlier.
"I thought your name was Clawheart?" Fernfire asked, as she rose from the group and padded up to Claw. After a while, she moved towards Brook in the same manner. "And Brookstream?"
They must be former VineClan cats, if Fernfire knows them, Mudstar thought.
Claw didn't reply, just shook his head. The tortoiseshell cat - Tern - which had shoved her way to the front of the group with Claw, spoke instead:
"These cats here are known as Vine's Rogues," she meowed. "Some of us, like Claw and Brook, used to be VineClan cats at one point. This was before the downfall of Fallingstar, and after this, they believed that being with TwigClan was not right for them. Because of this, they decided to make a group, honorable and loyal, called Vine's Rogues. Claw is our leader, and Brook is a Vine Warrior."
"And what about you?" snarled Swiftleap, shooting a defiant glance at Tern with narrowed amber eyes. "You and that other cat - didn't Claw say his name was Oliver? What's your part to play in this?"
Tern hesitated, as she met Swiftleap's gaze. After turning away, she continued: "Claw is merciful, and he lets cats that weren't in the Clans originally joined him. Oliver and I are two of these cats. We are treated in the same way as the Vine Warriors, but we are not known as that. We are known as Rogue Warriors, to remind us of our life before we joined Vine's Rogues."
"And what is your purpose here?" asked a cat, neither from Vine's Rogues or Clan.
All the cats - including Mudstar - turned. A dusty gray she-cat was standing there, her blue eyes wide as she stared.
There was a sudden reaction within the former BranchClan cats on the GrassClan side - especially with Grassdew, who had scrambled to his paws rapidly, and had started staring, with his mouth open.
Tern felt her tortoiseshell fur lifting in fright. Why were more Clan cats appearing at the scene?
Looking around for a second time, she realized that she was wrong. This new Clan cat - whoever she was - wasn't one of them. She smelled different, for one, and combined with the astonished stares of the Clan cats, changed Tern's thoughts. The tortoiseshell she-cat let her fur lie flat again.
"Ashenheart?" repeated the same brown tabby that had spoken before. He stepped forward, his green gaze meeting hers. "You survived the battle?" The tom's voice shook with shock and emotion.
The she-cat's blue eyes clouded over, and she gave a small nod. "Yes," she mewed thickly. "I didn't know where to go, and what to do. I was so scared, so I fled..." Her voice trailed off as she stared at her small paws.
At this, Tern spotted three of the Clan warriors shoot furious glances at the lone rogue she-cat, who had sat down after speaking for the first time since Tern had seen her.
What's their problem? she thought. Looking at Claw, who was staring at the same cats with an icy gaze, Tern realized: Of course! They're former VineClan cats - Claw's former Clanmates!
"And what's happened since?" Ashenheart continued, looking up. "I see cats from all three Clans on your patrol... and some former VineClan warriors on the other." Her gaze shifted towards Claw and Brook, who both hissed defiantly.
"The Clans have combined," echoed the Clan's leader, a brown-and-white tom. He was still standing commandingly at the front of his patrol, despite the lopsidedness of the way he stood. For the first time, Tern realized that one of his front paws was black, smaller than the others, and twisted.
"No thanks to you," hissed Claw, stepping in front of Vine's Rogues. The brown tabby's eyes were blazing with fury. "If your Clan hadn't attacked our warriors -"
Their leader interrupted Claw, his yellow eyes fierce. "When your former leader tried to attack our camp," he said calmly. "If VineClan's former warriors hadn't tried to attack the original TwigClan, this would never have happened. For one, there would be no Vine's Rogues. TwigClan and VineClan would've been the Clans that would've hunted the forest. Emberstar and Fallingstar would've still been alive." There was a pause, as the large cat took a shuddering, deep breath. "I would've still been Mudfoot, not Mudstar. There are much more that I could name, but I'm not saying anything anymore." After his speech, Mudstar backed away slightly into his group of cats.
At this, Ashenheart scuffled her paws, glared at each of the groups defiantly, and there was silence, except for the silent conflict that was erupting between Mudstar and Claw. Tern could see their gazes meeting one another's, both glaring like fire.
"So there's only one Clan in the forest," Ashenheart mewed quietly. The dusty gray she-cat rose to her paws. "There's much less war expected... or so it seems." Her gaze was centered on Claw, who was still growling defiantly.
Mudstar nodded. "It is what StarClan wanted. All we can do is remember the last leaders of the three original Clans."
"And one of them shouldn't have died," Claw growled. "Fallingstar deserved to live!"
"Nice try, Claw," growled a black-and-white tom. Tern recognized Swiftleap, one of the warriors who had been fighting Claw earlier, and who had beaten him. "Two leaders died in that battle. Each of them deserved to die, and each of them deserved to live. It was StarClan's destiny and fate that they both died."
"Of course," growled Claw silkily, sweeping his thick tail along the ground.
The Clan cats seemed to ignore Claw's words, continuing their vicious stares of defiance. Obviously, they were not convinced - yet.
They will be one day, Tern thought, her tail lashing. One day, Vine's Rogues will be stronger than any Clan! Those mange-pelts will fall to us, and feel our wrath of power!
"Vine's Rogues!" Claw called commandingly. "Back to camp! We have no more business to settle here." The brown tabby turned his back on the Clan cats, and flicked his tail, beckoning for Brook, Oliver, and Tern to follow.
Tern had one final look at them before she disappeared into the trees. She couldn't help but wonder if Claw was being dishonest, and the Clans right. Maybe Tern should leave Vine's Rogues.
Wait, Tern thought suddenly. I have a better idea.
She followed the patrol back to camp. Tomorrow, she was going to launch her plan into action.
As Mottlepaw batted Scatterpaw with a flash, he felt a thrill of excitement. He really enjoyed doing battle training - the prospect of defending his Clan was so exciting.
Scatterpaw lunged at Mottlepaw after the ginger tom had gotten to his paws. He moved away in a flash, as Scatterpaw crumpled to the ground.
"Stop fighting, you two." A call broke through the clearing, and Mottlepaw froze in an instant.
Shadefire was pacing, lashing her tail fiercely for no particular reason. As Scatterpaw sat up, Mottlepaw did the same, following the example of the older apprentice.
"Good work, Mottlepaw," Shadefire purred. The black she-cat was evidently impressed with him. "You remembered what I told you in our first battle training." She then turned to Scatterpaw, who was two moons older than Mottlepaw. "Scatterpaw, you need to be more prepared for your next attack."
Meanwhile, watching from the sidelines, Mottlepaw heard Highpaw, Scatterpaw's sister, snigger at Shadefire's words. The other apprentice, Streampaw, watched silently, her blue eyes narrowed in distaste.
"Streampaw," called Whitepetal, the she-cat who was mentoring Streampaw. "Let's see how well you've been doing. You'll be practicing against Highpaw."
As Mottlepaw moved to the side, he saw Highpaw's face, evident with shock. Obviously the pale brown she-cat was unhappy with the idea of fighting an older apprentice.
Whitepetal started to lead Highpaw and Streampaw to the center of the clearing, as Shadefire, Scatterpaw, and Mottlepaw sat down at the edge. Curious about what happened in the border skirmish yesterday - apparently between a border patrol and a group of hunting rogues - Mottlepaw bent over, and asked Scatterpaw: "What was it like on the border patrol yesterday? The one when you got attacked by the rogues?"
Scatterpaw's amber eyes blazed. Trembling, he replied: "Battle is a lot scarier than you think it is. The four cats we saw were all bigger than me. Fernfire made the right decision to send me back to camp." Scatterpaw looked down at his paws as he went on: "I wasn't expecting it... I was in shock... I don't like surprises..." Exhausted after his long speech, the ginger tom fell silent.
After this, Mottlepaw decided that it wasn't best to fight now. As an apprentice, he would learn the skills needed, and when he was older, he would fight for his Clan. He wasn't afraid to die for his Clan - his father, Mottlefur, had done that for LeafClan before he was born.
All the cats turned as Beechsand spoke, and Highpaw and Streampaw immediately ceased fighting. The ginger-and-brown tom's eyes were wide.
"There's a rogue on our territory," he hissed. "I can smell its stench."
Mottlepaw felt Scatterpaw freeze beside him, and taste the air worriedly. Mottlepaw did the same, and he realized that Beechsand was right - there was a stench in the air. Mottlepaw didn't recognize it - he hadn't formally been around the territory yet, yesterday she insisted he did battle training instead - but it was something he had never smelt before.
I think it's a rogue, Mottlepaw thought, guessing. That is definitely not TwigClan scent.
At once, Mottlepaw backed away. Scatterpaw was still frozen with shock, his fur bristling in all directions. Highpaw and Streampaw hissed, their claws unsheathing in fury, and Whitepetal and Beechsand did the same. Shadefire, meanwhile, padded out of the clearing.
There was silence for a moment. Mottlepaw didn't seen to notice. All he was wondering was where Shadefire was gone.
"What are you dong on -" A cat started speaking, then their words were cut off. It turned into a snarl as the cat snarled: "Are you one of those Vine's Rogues, that Mudstar was talking about?"
A shrill voice followed: "No! Don't take me back there! I want to see your leader!"
After these words, Beechsand flicked his tail. "Come," he meowed. "Highpaw and Streampaw, sheathe your claws. Scatterpaw, you're not going to be attacked - there's only one cat trespassing."
Highpaw and Streampaw looked disappointed as they padded gloomily behind Beechsand. Whitepetal followed after them, and after her, Scatterpaw came after, still terrified and shaking. At the back, Mottlepaw let his tail droop into the dust, although he was not disappointed himself. Who was this trespasser? He had seen no other cats, apart from the cats in TwigClan, in his life.
When Mottlepaw finally reached Shadefire, he felt his blue eyes opening wide. A tortoiseshell she-cat was confronting Mottlepaw's mentor, staring furiously.
"Just take me there," the tortoiseshell she-cat hissed at Shadefire. Her green eyes were blazing with fury. "I have a proposal that can make you beat Vine's Rogues."
Shadefire's blue eyes narrowed, and her tail started lashing from side to side. "What is it?" she asked: still hostile, but there was evident interest in her tone.
The tortoiseshell she-cat took a deep breath before she spoke. "I am doing this at risk to my own life," she meowed, "but here is my offer... I want to join your Clan, but first, to help you to win this battle, I will spy for you in Vine's Rogues."
Claw twitched his tail impatiently, as the cats in his camp swarmed around. Most of them were there, except for one cat, which Claw pointed out easily.
The tortoiseshell she-cat's name rang in Claw's mind. He wondered where the rogue warrior had disappeared to. Why wasn't she in the camp?
Claw snapped his attention back to the hustle and bustle of the camp. All the group's warriors - whether Vine or Rogue - were sharing prey together. The groups were getting closer and closer to one another each day, and were learning to trust each other more than ever.
"Well, I'll tell you a story about something that happened when I was a kittypet in Twolegplace," mewed a cream-furred she-cat. Claw recognized Ellie, one of the group's rogue warriors. Her amber eyes were glinting as a few other cats - Crow and Ripple, two fellow rogue warriors, and Lily, a Vine warrior - listened to her. "It started when I was searching beyond my old owner's nest..."
A couple of the Vine Warriors shot surprised and suspicious glances at Ellie's words, but stayed silent.
I never knew that Ellie used to be a kittypet, Claw thought. That explains her name... what about Oliver? Is he a former kittypet?
Really, Claw wasn't that interested in where the rogue warriors were from. All Claw demanded from them now was absolute loyalty to him. Tonight, he would decide who would help to lead his group in the way of Vine's Rogues - he would choose two assistants - one from each group - to help him with his task.
And they must have absolute loyalty to me. Otherwise, they won't be my assistants. They will die, if this loyalty is broken.
Pawsteps thrummed on the ground, and Claw turned towards the camp entrance. Most of the other cats did the same - except for the cats who were listening to Ellie's story, who kept listening. Ellie herself seemed unfazed, and she kept on telling her story to her group mates.
Claw saw a tortoiseshell blur rush into the camp. He recognized Tern, who had slowed down to a halt nearby. Two mousetails hung in her mouth, and they thudded to the ground when Tern realized that Claw was staring at her.
"Why are you late coming back here?" Claw queried.
Tern paused, then gave a shaky dip of the head. "Prey was hard to find," she mewed hesitantly. "It was hard to find these two mice." One of Tern's tortoiseshell paws prodded one of the mice that lay at her paws.
Fair enough, Claw thought, as he nodded slowly. "Are you hungry? You can eat, if you want, otherwise you can put them on the fresh-kill pile."
At this, Tern's gaze suddenly turned cold. Her green gaze seemed to ice over as she snarled: "I'm not hungry, Claw. I'll be putting these on the fresh-kill pile." And with that, Tern picked up her two mice in a rush, and placed them onto the empty fresh-kill pile.
That's unusual, Claw thought, as he saw Tern pad away in a rush, and disappear in the rogue warriors' den. She wasn't this grumpy when she left the camp this morning. Why is she so grumpy?
Then, with a jolt, Claw realized: Wait... she hasn't been in camp since this morning! What's she been doing?
There was something up with Tern, and Claw knew it. She wouldn't have missed sunhigh with the camp without a decent reason.
The revelation that Claw just found out buzzed in his head. What was the problem with Tern? Why was she being so suspicious?
Sighing, Claw padded away from the camp, and into his bramble-enforced den. His nest lay in the middle, covered with fresh moss. He sat down in it, and Claw sighed again. He couldn't get Tern out of his mind.
Something's up with Tern, and I know it.
Frustrated, Mudstar padded lopsidedly to the other end of the camp. The denwork repairs on the elder's den weren't going well.
Recently, the two Clan elders - Quickbreeze and Bravetail - had been complaining of leaks in the den. The Clan warriors and apprentices were trying hard to sort it, but work had been difficult - partially because the den walls were weak. Every warrior and apprentice in the Clan were trying to find a solution - and with leaf-bare on the way, there wasn't ample time.
At the moment, Seedgorse - the Clan deputy - was leading the repair work. The ginger warrior had recruited Fernfire, Blackfang, Ashenheart - who had accepted the offer to join the Clan - Shellfur, and Brindlepaw to help - and once again it wasn't going as well as it should be.
"This wall is so fragile," Shellfur complained, as he tore a chunk of weakened wall out with unsheathed claws. "Has anyone gone to get something better? That stuff we found on the outskirts of former BranchClan territory?"
With a flash, Mudstar remembered BranchClan. They fell when he was a warrior, when the former VineClan attacked them. The survivors - which included Seedgorse and Shellfur - took refuge with LeafClan, and then they became TwigClan - the name the Clan had today.
I wonder what life would be like, if that battle hadn't happened, Mudstar thought.
"I was pretty sure I sent Shrewstep's patrol over that way," Seedgorse mewed. "He thought that Perchpaw was up to it."
Mudstar turned, and flattened his ears. Two shapes - one black with white streaks, one bright ginger with darker patches - came into the camp.
Mottlepaw and Scatterpaw! Mudstar recognized the two apprentices at once. They had been battle training earlier, and the TwigClan leader wondered why they were back without at least one of their mentors.
"Mudstar!" Mottlepaw panted, as the young black tom padded up to him. Scatterpaw followed more slowly, and Mudstar noticed that his amber gaze was full of fear. Obviously something had happened - Scatterpaw was still mortified after yesterday's incident.
"What is it?" Mudstar asked, looking into Mottlepaw's ice-blue gaze, which was so much like his father's.
"A cat from Vine's Rogues has been trespassing!" Mottlepaw squeaked, bouncing on his paws. "She said -"
"Stop being so excited," huffed Scatterpaw, as he shoved the smaller apprentice out of the way. Addressing Mudstar, he dipped his head, and mewed: "While we were battle training, Beechsand scented a rogue on our territory. Whitepetal ceased the training at once, and Shadefire went to look. One of those Vine's Rogues - one that was on that patrol yesterday - was trespassing."
"Trespassing?" Shellfur mewed loudly, apparently overhearing from where he was working on the elders' den. "What's going on now?"
At Shellfur's words, all the cats in the TwigClan camp fell silent, and stopped what they were doing. They all turned towards Mudstar, eyes of many colours flashing at him.
Luckily, at that moment, another group of cats came into the camp - this time, there was Shadefire, Beechsand, Highpaw, Streampaw, Whitepetal - and, like Mottlepaw and Scatterpaw had mentioned - the tortoiseshell rogue that had been on that Vine's Rogues patrol. Mudstar wondered why she was in the camp.
"She had an offer for you," Shadefire called. The black she-cat's blue eyes met Mudstar's yellow ones. "Should we discuss this together in your den - her, you, and I? This could benefit the Clan."
Mudstar shifted his gaze to the tortoiseshell rogue for a moment, then dipped his head. "Very well. Shadefire, bring this rogue to my den. We shall discuss this."
"My name is Tern, you know," the tortoiseshell rogue grunted. "You could call me by that next time."
"Oh, sorry Tern," Mudstar mewed apologetically: he had forgotten her name. "I'll show you to mu den, and we shall discuss your plan.
Tern dipped her head to Mudstar. "Lead the way," she mewed.
Mudstar flicked his tail for Tern to follow her, and the tortoiseshell cat followed. Shadefire also joined the group, her black tail waving from side to side. They ducked into the den, and the three cats turned towards each other.
"So," Mudstar mewed, turning to Tern. "Explain your plan."
Now that she was in front of all these unfamiliar Clan cats, Tern felt nervous. Before, she had doubted what the Clan cats would think of her, but she had managed to impress them. She looked at Mudstar with a fierce gaze after she had spoken, and then she spoke, remembering what she had been deceiving on the way over:
"I want to spy for you," Tern began. "I am already a member of Vine's Rogues, so they already trust you. I can report to you, and give you updates on this conflict."
After Tern's words, there was silence from Mudstar, and the black cat - Shadefire - that had first caught her on TwigClan territory. With a jolt, she realized that they had their ears had the same look, and their muscular bodies looked similar, although Mudstar's was obviously bulkier. Were Mudstar and Shadefire related?
"Hmm..." Mudstar's thoughtful mew jolted Tern out of her thoughts. The brown-and-white tom's yellow eyes were full of interest. "Will you tell any cat about what you are doing?" he asked sternly, his tone changing so suddenly that it surprised Tern.
"I promise not to," Tern mewed softly. She knew that she wouldn't do that sort of thing - she was the type of cat who kept to her promises.
There was another moment of silence, and finally, Tern saw Mudstar dipping his head. "Very well, I accept your offer, on the condition that you don't tell any Vine's Rogues cat about what you are doing."
"Thank you Mudstar," Tern replied to the TwigClan leader, dipping her head. She felt pleased that she'd been able to impress him. "Should I tell any cat in your Clan about this?" Tern turned to look at Shadefire, who was still looking at Tern with icy blue eyes narrowed to slits.
Mudstar shook his head. "No, not yet. Maybe when you've earned the Clan's trust, I will. However, I will tell my patrols to not attack you."
Tern dipped her head to Mudstar. "Thank you. I'd better get back to Vine's Rogues now - otherwise Claw won't forgive me for it." It was true that Tern had to head back, but she didn't want to leave TwigClan now. They seemed so welcoming...
Mudstar dipped his head to her in acknowledgement. "May StarClan light your path," he whispered to her.
"And yours," Tern replied, before vanishing out of his den, and out of the TwigClan camp.
On the way back to camp, Tern caught two mice, so that Claw wouldn't screw her for coming back to camp empty-handed. Coming back to camp without anything useful was bad for Claw, and he said it would threaten the group. At the moment, Tern didn't really care about what Claw said: although she was still a member of Vine's Rogues, her true loyalty was to TwigClan now. She was only in Vine's Rogues now to spy.
As she came into camp, however, she saw Claw glaring maliciously at her. She had caught prey, what was Tern's quarrel with Claw now? She didn't know the answer. In the shock, she dropped the two mice onto the ground, landing with a thud at her paws.
"Why are you late coming back here?" Claw asked. His blue eyes were unforgiving as he stared at her.
Frightened and shaking, Tern dipped her head to Claw. Making up a lie, she mewed: "Prey was hard to find. It was hard to find these two mice." Not thinking, Tern felt herself prodding one of the mice at her paws.
There was silence as Claw thought over what Tern had said, and then he nodded slowly. "Are you hungry? You can eat, if you want, otherwise you can put them on the fresh-kill pile," he mewed, obviously trying to be friendly.
At once, Tern's rage for Vine's Rogues took over. Her loyalty was to TwigClan now, not to them! Shooting a cold gaze at Claw, Tern hissed: "I'm not hungry, Claw. I'll be putting these on the fresh-kill pile." Picking up the two mice still lying at her paws, Tern trotted away to put her catches on the pile.
As she looked up, though, she was alarmed by what she saw. She saw Claw sighing, and she saw the brown tabby leader pad into his den. At once, Tern felt cold dread run through her veins.
He knows that I'm acting strangely, doesn't he? Oh, StarClan, please don't tell me that he knows I'm spying!
The shadowy forest provided some comfort for Mottlepaw, as he let the cool ground touch his paws. It was nice to have a break from the war - although the rift hadn't grown any more in the past half-moon, it was evidently still there.
He tasted the air hesitantly. No unusual scents hit his tongue - apart from an incoming scent, which he knew was no threat. He turned his head behind him, hearing a rustling in the bushes.
Shadefire emerged from the gap, her black fur ruffled, her blue eyes round as she stared at him. "It's unusual for you to be up this early, Mottlepaw..." she mewed to her apprentice, flicking her tail to where an early morning sun was rising in the sky. "What are you doing?"
Mottlepaw shook his head. "Stop worrying about me, Shadefire..." he mewed roughly. "I'm fine. I'm just waiting for Tern... she promised she was going to tell me the story of how she came to Vine's Rogues today, when she turned up."
Shadefire stared at Mottlepaw for a while, and then she turned away. "Fair enough," she grunted, before turning around, and heading back into the camp behind her.
When Shadefire had gone, Mottlepaw started to feel embarrassed. He didn't want to admit it, but he really admired Tern, for some strange reason. He found her brave, and noble, for spying undercover. Sometimes, he wished he could be just like her - but he knew he'd never be.
No way will I ever be a spy... I'm not as brave as Tern, and I don't think I'll ever be. I admire her bravery...
Suddenly, as Mottlepaw heard a rustling in the bushes ahead of him, the white-streaked tom pricked his ears. A tortoiseshell she-cat slunk out of the bushes in front of him, her green eyes wide. Mottlepaw purred as he saw her.
"Tern," he purred, raising his tail happily. "How are you?" He liked to be friendly towards Tern, although Mottlepaw knew she was older thank him - in the Clan, she would be considered a warrior, unlike him.
Tern gave him a grateful nod. "I'm fine, Mottlepaw." She shook out her tortoiseshell fur as she went on. "Of course, Claw's going beserk, trying to make sure Raven and I are up to scratch, being his assistants and all..." she sighed. "Being an assistant is hard work... makes me feel like Seedgorse, with all her duties as a deputy. She flicked her tail at Mottlpaw, beckon him to come back to camp with her.
Mottlepaw joined the rogue warrior mulling over Claw's assistant theory. In Vine's Rogues, Claw had something like two deputies. One was called Raven - apparently a former VineClan warrior called Ravendash - and Tern was the other.
As Mottlepaw came back to the camp, the usual hustle and bustle sounded. Mudstar was loping outside his den: Seedgorse was organizing patrols. Whitepetal and Fernfire were taking out Streampaw and Scatterpaw as Tern and Mottlepaw came in, and they greeted both cats with a nod.
Tern trotted off to see Mudstar, who was sitting with Windswift. As Tern approached the brown-and-white leader prick his ears, while Windswift listened intently alongside her leader. Althought Windswift was just a normal warrior, rumors often went around the clan that she and Mudstar liked each other, and that she would bear his kits some day.
Shadefire padded up to Mottlepaw once more, her tail flicking. "Feeling up to some border patrolling, my apprentice?" she asked, trying to sound enthusiastic.
Mottlepaw sighed. "Let's wait... there looks like an important conversation is going on," he mewed, as he saw Windswift getting pestered away by Tern, and then seeing the tortoiseshell cat convincing Mudstar to go into his den. He flicked his tail at Tern and Mudstar, trying to get across his point.
To Mottlepaw's relief, Shadefire listened, and the black she-cat sat down. "But only until this is over," she muttered crossly. "We have training to do - as you know, Mottlepaw." Her blue eyes flashed as she spoke.
Mottlepaw nodded, as he pricked his ears at Mudstar's and Tern's conversation. Eventually, the two cats broke apart, and Mudstar was shaking his head. The black tom heard his leader say:
"We will have to be more vigilant, us as being TwigClan... it is not good, the news that Tern told me. If Claw is getting suspicious of her, who knows what will happen?"
And in that moment, Mottlepaw truly realized why Vine's Rogues was dangerous.
What will they do to the Clan? the young apprentice fretted, his tail flicking anxiously. I hope they won't kill me as some cat - he turned around, as he saw Hawktalon move up to Seedgorse to be put on a patrol - did to my father!
Claw shook out his brown tabby pelt, and made it fluff out. He watched the scarlet and gold leaves fall in front of him, and for once he was amazed by its beauty.
In the past few days in Vine's Rogue's territory, the leaves had started to fall, another sign that the weather was starting to cool off. The leaves in the forest had started to turn into their warmer shades, and had also started to drift to the ground after letting go from their protectors. Lifting one paw, Claw caught one scarlet leaf in the paw, and then he moved it away so that it could drift to the ground once more.
Now, it had been a moon since the first border skirmish, and the rogues in the group had recovered to near-normal. Claw had to admit that Oliver was still a little bit shaky about the whole incident, but thankfully he was still determined to put a stop to TwigClan. However, the thing that bothered Claw the most was Tern's regular disappearances since the battle, and this concerned him. The tortoiseshell had been disappearing every third day, to a place that the leader didn't know.
I wonder where she's been, Claw thought, narrowing his blue eyes in suspicion about his assistant. All that I hope for is that she is not being disloyal to Vine's Rogues.
A skittering of paws on the forest floor alerted Claw, and his head shot up in panic. He calmed down, however, when he saw who was making the noise - it was only Oak, Snowy, Cherry, and Aspen, trouncing through the forest on a hunting patrol. Claw flattened his ears, and crouched down to observe what the patrol was doing.
Snowy, the pale Rogue Warrior, was leading the patrol of cats. Her bushy, white tail flicked as she started to give out instructions. "Oak, Cherry, go hunt by the Prickly Pine," Snowy ordered, her eyes narrowed to slits as she started at Oak with defiance, as so the older, reddish-brown cat wouldn't dare to disobey her instructions.
To Claw's relief, Oak actually listened to Snowy for once. Oak liked to ignore the Rogue Warriors, and this annoyed every cat - even the Vine Warriors - greatly. Oak gave a grunt as he padded over to Cherry, scowling at the Rogue Warrior as he passed. Although he didn't say anything to the white she-cat, Claw could tell that Oak didn't like Cherry due to her status of being a Rogue Warrior - not one bit.
He'd better learn to listen to the Rogue Warriors, or I'll kick him out, Claw thought. He wanted to growl at Oak and tell him off for his stubbornness, but he stayed there, not wanting to be noticed. He could go see Oak later about it.
Oak and Cherry left the area to go to the nearby Prickly Pine, and as Claw saw Cherry's skinny tail disappear around the corner, he sighed in relief, before he turned his attention back to Snowy and Aspen, who were still there.
"We'll hunt together," Snowy decided as she spoke to Aspen. The she-cat's amber eyes looked up at the larger cat, and Aspen flicked his tail in acknowledgement as Snowy continued: "You can decide where." In the last bit, however, Claw couldn't help but pick up a touch of embarrassment in Snowy's voice.
Claw stared at Snowy, smirking. Do you like Aspen? he asked inside his mind, not expecting an answer. Eventually, Snowy and Aspen left together, and Claw got back up, shaking out his fur again.
He thought about what he had just seen, and started to reflect on it. He knew he had to start taking into account that there could be a battle coming - what else was there to be to stop this rivalry? - and he had to prepare his group.
Oak - stop his stubbornness, was his first thought. Oak had surprised Claw today - by actually deciding to listen to a Rogue Warrior for once - but there was still work to do.
Raven - get him to sort out fighting techniques. Claw also knew that Raven was a talented fighter, and when VineClan still existed, Fallingstar would often pick Raven to lead battle patrols when Breezefur wasn't available. He knew that his assistant would be a good leader to help with battle moves -
And thinking about Raven reminded Claw of Tern. Where has she been? he asked himself. I want her to help with the battle, too. She'll be on that patrol for sure.
Claw then shrugged, and hoped for the best. Maybe she's helping to find more members... that'll be good... he convinced himself, as he started to pad away. I can trust Tern, and I know it.
...But as Claw padded away, heading back to the Vine's Rogue's camp, there was one thing that he had forgotten to consider.
Although the brown-patched cat had never really fancied that certain part of being a TwigClan cat - in fact, he had never really liked it - Mudstar was, for once, helping with the battle preparations for the battle with Vine's Rogues.
The whole Clan knows, he added to himself, as she shivered with fear. All he hoped was that when the time came, he wouldn't be leading TwigClan to their death.
He remembered that fateful day, three days ago, when Claw and three of his followers - one of the Vine Warriors named Lily, a black-and-brown Rogue Warrior that Mudstar didn't know, and Tern - came into the camp, swearing vengeance on TwigClan, and war. They'd set the date for a quarter moon from today. Mudstar had to admit once he looked back, that three of the cats meant what they were saying - but he could tell that Tern was acting up, so that Claw had no idea that she was spying for them.
he doesn't know, thankfully, Mudstar added, as he thought about Claw. Blinking, he turned back to the battle practice that was going on in the clearing. At the moment, Shellfur was supervising as Perchpaw and Flashpaw - Mudstar's apprentice - practiced their moves in the clearing.
Flashpaw will be a great warrior when the time comes, Mudstar reflected about his apprentice, a purr arising in his throat. Now that he had little more than a moon to go with his training, Flashpaw looked like a warrior already. Mudstar knew he could trust him - he had been put under instructions to play easy on Perchpaw, and the ginger cat had done that without hesitation.
Mudstar grunted, looking down at his twisted black paw, before turning back to the fighting apprentices. Perchpaw leapt into the air, obviously trying to pin Flashpaw down, but Flashpaw quickly rolled out of the way before Perchpaw came back to the ground. As he touched the ground, though, Perchpaw lunged at Flashpaw again.
"Break it up, you two." Shellfur's voice rang through the air, and at once Flashpaw and Perchpaw froze, Perchpaw backing away slowly and turning to face Shellfur.
"How was that, Shellfur?" asked Perchpawm cocking his dark head. Meanwhile, Mudstar turned his head towards Shrewstep - Perchpaw's mentor. He saw Shrewstep mouth the word 'eye contact' to Shellfur - and the gray tom understood, as he turned back to Perchpaw.
"Perchpaw, you need to remember not to let your eyes tell you where you're going to go to next," Shellfur lectured to the young apprentice, his tail flicking. Shellfur continued his lecturre, while Mudstar moved over to Flashpaw, who was siting nearby. The ginger tom lifted his head as his mentor approached.
"Oh, hi Mudstar," the ginger tom mewed casually, flicking his white-tipped tail. "Did you see me fight?" He then flicked his ears in Perchpaw's direction - Shellfur had just finished lecturing him, and Mudstar saw him and Shrewstep organizing him and Brindlepaw - Shellfur's apprentice - on another fighting drill. "Shellfur was right about the eye contact - it was all too very obvious where he was going to attack."
Mudstar nodded, but overall he wasn't really interested in Flashpaw's conversation. Battle moves were not Mudstar's favourite subject to talk about, but he tried to keep along with the topic, as he said: "Fair enough..."
Flashpaw nodded in agreement, and then added: "I've been thinking about the battle, Mudstar... I have a feeling. I have a feeling that we're going to win, but both sides will lose, in a way." He shot a quizzical look at Mudstar. "Lose in a way?"
Mudstar shot a sad look at his apprentice, and at once he was reminded of his two mentors - Mottlefur and Rubblefall - who had both died in battle. "There are losses in battle, Flashpaw..." he said softly. "Remember that battle just before you became an apprentice, between us and VineClan? Remember Rubblefall, Birdwind, and Pebblefrost? They all died." It hurt to think about the three fallen warriors, but he went on: "Life moves on, Flashpaw. You've been lucky no to witness another battle like that."
Flashpaw nodded sadly. "But I don't want my family to die," he mewed softly, looking up. "Your brother died in battle, too." Mudstar was reminded of Birchsnow, who died in the battle that formed the basis of Vine's Rogues.
"Of course," Mudstar replied. "But Flashpaw... you'll just have to understand that there are two sides to every story."
Flashpaw nodded, and leant his head on his mentor's side. Mudstar looked out onto Perchpaw and Brindlepaw practicing their battle moves - and in that moment, Mudstar started to really dread the battle.
Flashpaw is right. I just hope I'm not forsaking TwigClan to a certain doom...
Tern shivered in anxiety as she padded alongside the rest of Vine's Rogues. She knew that today, her secret would be revealed - and she dreaded the foredooming moment.
The morning of the battle had dawned a lot colder than leaf-fall had been so far, and frost was easily visible on the occasional patches of grass the group had passed as they made their way to the TwigClan border. Every cat had their fur fluffed up - even Crow, a Rogue Warrior who had a reputation for not really feeling the cold.
From beside Tern, the tortoiseshell she-cat felt Claw whip around beside her, growling as he inspected his group. She watched as the brown tabby's blue eyes narrowed, and Tern knew that he was looking at Ripple - the tabby was loping around at the back.
"Ripple!" Claw hissed, an edge to his tone. "Stop slacking! We have a battle to fight, you know!"
Ripple fluffed out his dark gray fur even more than it had been originally, and scampered forward, muttering a rushed apology to Claw as his paws skittered clumsily along the ground. Tern turned back to the front, and pretended that nothing had happened as she went on.
"Good move there, Claw." A voice made Tern twitch her ears, and she turned to see Raven. The black assistant was speaking to Claw, his sleek black tail flicking from side to side. Changing the subject, Raven continued: "Tonight, we will have a great victory once we defeat TwigClan!" he yowled to the whole group. "The former VineClan cats there will know that we made the right decision!"
There whole group cheered, Tern pretending to show her support. She unsheathed her claws, and dug them into the ground for a while before sheathing them again, trying to contain her silent anger towards Claw, and the whole of Vine's Rogues in general. No! You're not going to win! she cried inside her mind. TwigClan's going to! You have no honor - how can you say that!?
In that moment, Tern was immensely happy that she wasn't yowling out those words. Her attention turned back to Claw, and Tern knew that he would be angry when he found out her secret. What will Claw say when he finds out? she thought, her apprehension growing inside of her.
Those were only a few thoughts that worried Tern as she padded to the border. Each step that the tortoiseshell took made her feel more apprehensive about the battle. She was having a war in her mind - and she was happy that Claw and Raven had no idea of her hidden struggle.
As they neared, Tern felt her heart leap, and then beat faster - beating faster than Tern had ever felt it before. She knew that she would have to make a quick move once the TwigClan cats arrived at the battle scene - to stem the thought that Tern was lying to them. However, Tern wondered: What would be a good idea not to suspect Claw that she was disobeying him?
And as Vine's Rogues approached that particular border, that was when all the brainwaves for the attack came for Tern.
I'll pretend to go to the dirtplace, the assistant decided, as she gently twitched her patched, bushy tail. I'll go away far enough - and once the battle has started, I'll run back, and attack a member of Vine's Rogues.
She felt guilty about attacking one of her own, but Tern knew that this was for the better. Now, she only had to decide who to attack - and she knew who she wanted to challenge, although she would fear the worst if his side won.
Claw. I'm going to fight Claw.
Tern felt dread as she thought this. However, now that Tern had thought up her battle plan, she felt a lot more confident. She felt relief - now she knew her part, when it came.
Eventually, the TwigClan cats came to the border. Tern could tell from a distance that this wasn't the whole Clan, but there was a lot of cats there. At the groups' helm, Mudstar stood, with Seedgorse, and two of the medicine cats - Gustwind and Flowerfall - as well.
Tern felt pity for the TwigClan cats. I don't want you to fight - and I don't want to fight either, she thought, feeling miserable. She felt her green gaze sweep over the cats, recognizing some as she went: Flashpaw, Whitepetal and her apprentice, Streampaw; Hollyheart and Mountainfoot - who were both crouching down together, their spiky pelts brushing as the two cats did so - Swiftleap, Windswift... even Sorrelburr, the rather bitter she-cat who seemed to be putting on weight recently.
In this moment, Tern knew that it was her time to act.Getting Claw's attention with a wave her tail, she told the Vine's Rogues' leader: "I need to go to the dirtplace."
Claw stared at Tern quizzically. The brown tom snorted, and then he mewed: "You should've gone earlier... but Tern, you can go, if you absolutely have to. But don't forget to come back - I need you for this battle," he mewed, his eyes twinkling.
Tern turned, and slunk away, hearing Mudstar and Claw starting to argue in the near distance. Their voices escalated as she moved away, and when she finally turned back again, she heard Claw's call:
"Vine's Rogues, attack!"
Quickly, Mudstar followed with his call, and that was when Tern reacted. Sprinting back in the way she had came, she unsheathed her claws as she leapt through the air - and landed - with a thud - on Claw.
Game on, Claw, Tern thought, as she prepared for battle. Now let's see whose side will win.
Mottlepaw's black fur bristled in excitement. The whole Clan had gathered below the Rockfall, waiting for Mudstar to announce the battle patrol for the battle against Vine's Rogues.
The Clan was silent. Every cat was looking up at Mudstar, who was sitting on Rockfall as he usually was. The brown-patched white tom's black, twisted paw was under his leg as it usually was, his yellow eyes sweeping across his Clan. Mottlepaw gulpaed as he waited for the announcement.
Eventually, Mudstar started to speak: "Today, I will announce who will be going on the battle against Vine's Rogues. If you are selected, tonight we will head to the border to fight for us, and we will win!" Mudstar raised his voice in triumph.
The Clan cheered, but Mottlepaw could see that a few of the VineClan cats - Shardthorn and Blackfang, to name a couple - looked a little uneasy. Mottlepaw presumed that this was just because they didn't want to find against some of their former Clanmates, and the tom turned his head back to Mudstar, who had started to lecture his Clan again:
"I will be going, as will be Seedgorse." As in a rely to her leader's words, Seedgorse nodded, the deputy's green eyes alight. "Flowerfall and Gustwind will also attend to do fix-ups at the battle scene - and when we are gone, Honeyshine will be left in charge."
The three medicine cats nodded from where they sat outside their den. Gustwind and Flowerfall looked slightly doubtful about the battle, but Honeyshine looked pleased about getting so much responsibility.
"Now, for the cats I will send on the patrol," Mudstar announced. The cats - at this moment - all became deadly silent, and still. "The cats I will send will be..."
Mottlepaw felt his heart beating in his chest. This was it. He was either staying or going...
"Swiftleap." Mudstar called out the first name, his voice strong. "Sorrelburr, Whitepetal, Streampaw, Ashdust, Pricklegorse." As each cats' name was called they padded over to one end of the camp, waiting for their next instruction. "Hopefire, Mistfur, Windswift, and Mountainfoot." Another lot of cats had been called, and they too headed over.
Mottlepaw watched as the cats clustered. He could see Streampaw's face - alight with the fact that she was going to battle. He wondered if he would be in the same situation as her.
"Hawktalon, Ashenheart, Rainsweptpetal, Shellfur, and Brindlepaw." Another lot of cats were called - mainly formerly of BranchClan, Mottlepaw realized - except for one cat.
Mottlepaw was jealous of Brindlepaw. The silver she-cat was glowering at Mottlepaw, her green eyes alight. How come my sister gets to go?!
But Mudstar hasn't finished yet, another voice replied inside of Mottlepaw's head. Mottlepaw shook himself as he realized, and then he turned back to Mudstar again.
"Shardthorn, Squirrelheart, Beechsand, Highpaw, Blackfang, Hollyheart," Mudstar continued. "Featherdrift, Flashpaw. Shadefire - and Mottlepaw." Mudstar finished the list with a flourish, lashing his brown-tipped tail in conclusion.
At once, Mottlepaw leapt to his paws, and padded over quickly. I'm on the patrol! he thought triumphantly, as he trotted over with his nose in the air. I'm on the patrol!
Mudstar flicked his tail as heard the rest of the Clan - which wasn't too many cats - murmur in disbelief about why they weren't selected. The whole camp quietened down once more as they turned back to their leader, their tails flicking.
"Sharpsun, Shrewstep, Perchpaw, Fernfire, Scatterpaw, and Grassdew." Mudstar nodded to each warrior - or apprentice - in turn as he named them. "You will guard the camp, in case Vine's Rogues get that far, although I doubt it."
The cats acknowledged their leader with a nod. After this, Mudstar then turned back to the cats preparing for battle, he mewed: "We will discuss battle plans later. In the meantime, we will prepare." Turning back to the whole Clan, he added: "Meeting dismissed."
Mottlepaw scampered off, his heart beating excitedly in the chest. I get to fight Vine's Rogues!
However, one thought struck the black apprentice's heart. I just don't want to die...
Once Tern had headed off to go to make dirt, Claw felt his claws unsheathe from behind him. He was ready for this battle - this battle to the death. And he would make sure that Vine's Rogues would win.
The brown tabby turned his head towards Mudstar slowly, meeting the leader's yellow gaze. For a moment, Claw and Mudstar stared into each other's eyes: it was blue against yellow. Finally, when Claw was bold enough to make his move, he raised his head, and mewed: "Are you going to surrender?" There was only one chance left to avoid battle...
Onbviously, the TwigClan cats disagreed with him. He saw cats that were once his Clanmates - Hollyheart, Shardthorn, Beechsand, and Squirrelheart, just to name a few - crouched down furiously and growled. The cats that were always his enemies followed suit, and it was obvious to Claw what the answer was going to be.
"Did you ever think we'd say no?" Mudstar's voice jolted Claw back to attention. Mudstar was staring at Claw, his eyes narrowed, his brown-tipped tail flicking. "You have caused us so much damage, and you're never going to win, Claw. Never."
No! We will win - not your stupid Clan! You were always destined to lose! Claw was furious with Mudstar - how dare the TwigClan leader say that sort of thing to him! Turning his head, he checked if Tern was nearby. No sign - she must still be making dirt, Claw guessed.
Claw flicked his tail at his cats, letting them all move forward. "Vine's Rogues, attack!" the brown tabby called, leaping forward.
Mudstar was quick to follow Claw's lead. "TwigClan, attack!" the brown-and-white tom bellowed, and the rest of Mudstar's cats leapt out to follow him.
In that moment, Claw recognized how drastically outnumbered his cats were. He saw two black cats - one with white streaks on his pelt - leap forward to attack Raven. Raven swerved to avoid the bigger one's blow - but the white-streaked cat, who was probably a Clan apprentice - spotted his weakness, and pounced at him.
At the moment, Claw wasn't facing anyone. They'd all gone to face others - in half of the situations, it was two TwigClan cats against one member of Vine's Rogues. He was very tempted to go help Raven - kill off that streaked apprentice, he thought -
And then a weight hit is back. Reeling, Claw fell over, the cat coming down with him. Turning to the cat, assuming it was a TwigClan warrior, he spat: "TwigClan scum! Do you really think you're going to beat me?"
The cat released Claw, and padded up to him. "I'm not a member of TwigClan, Claw," the cat purred in her voice - a voice that was very familiar to Claw. "Nor am I a member of Vine's Rogues." She leapt at the leader, claws unsheathed, and leaving Claw rather unprepared.
Claw fell backwards, and the cat pinned him down. He was confused when he saw the cat above him - it was Tern. Why are you attacking your own? he thought, struggling weakly. "What are you doing?" he muttered, looking to one side, where Brook was snarling at a gray-and-brown tabby before she retreated away. The gray-and-brown tabby cat then turned to a black-and-white body beside her, and shrieked: "No, Swiftleap! Don't leave me! I'm expecting your kits..." The she-cat turned to sob at her mate's body.
He was jolted back to attention as Tern swiped him over the face with unsheathed claws. Claw gasped as he saw scarlet blood pooling down his face. "Pay attention," his assistant hissed. And in that moment, Claw knew that all those meetings that had happened - the days when Tern had been away from camp - had been betrayal.
She betrayed us to TwigClan! Claw hissed in his mind, trying to flail his paws in the air. He then turned back to Tern, who was spitting at her so-called leader.
"As soon as that TwigClan battle had happened - the first one - I started to doubt you, Claw," the tortoiseshell she-cat hissed. Her claws dug even harder into Claw's pelt every second the she-cat spoke. "I found out you were in the wrong. You should've trusted Mudstar all along. Otherwise, your former leader - Fallingstar - would never had died for a reason."
Claw shivered in her fur. This has... this has... made her think like a TwigClan warrior! Claw was annoyed with himself - why hadn't he seen the she-cat's treachery before? He was furious - very furious.
"You used to be Clawheart," Tern added. "You could have all been honorable warriors - you eight, who betrayed TwigClan. Clawheart... Ravendash... Brookstream... Lilyfall... Petalflame... Wishleaf... Oakfire... and Aspenclaw." She recited the eight warrior names of the eight Vine Warriors - including himself. Claw marveled in her ability that she could remember all those names, even though she hadn't known them then.
Claw gasped. "How could you..."
Tern didn't reply to Claw with too much words. "You made the wrong decision," she said to her leader, as she narrowed her green eyes. "And now... it is your time to die."
And that was when Tern struck a blow, a blow that struck Claw's bones. He weakly saw blood - so much blood - gushing out of him. The last thing he heard was Mudstar breaking up the whole battle before his senses dulled forever.
The morning after the battle dawned cold after a long vigil for the fallen TwigClan warriors. The Clan has risen solemnly, and buried the deceased.
In those moments, Mudstar knew that the struggle with all those Clan rifts was over. Finally, he could leave his past behind him. But obviously, it came at a high price.
It was lucky that TwigClan had won, with that respect. TwigClan had lost a lot of cats compared to Vine's Rogues. A Vine Warrior, Brook, had been sneaking around and had taken most of the lives of the fallen - before Flashpaw had caught her in the act of killing Flowerfall, the medicine cat - who ended up dying of Brook's wounds soon after. Flashpaw had killed Brook in retaliation, not long before Claw himself had fallen.
Claw, Raven, Brook. The three Vine warriors that had died echoed in Mudstar's mind. Soon after, the Rogue Warriors followed: Oliver, Snowy, Crow. Finally the TwigClan cats ended the list: Flowerfall, Ashenheart, Beechsand, Shardthorn, Hopefire, Mistfur, Ashdust, Hawktalon, Blackfang, Featherdrift... and Swiftleap.
As he thought of the last name, Mudstar cringed. My father... It wasn't at a good time, too - his mother, Sorrelburr, had apparently revealed to Swiftleap over his dead body that she was expecting another litter of his kits. Mudstar felt all right with it - but he hoped the kits wouldn't turn out to be like Sorrelburr.
She hates me, Mudstar thought furiously. Only because of my twisted paw. The white leader waved his twisted black paw in front of his nose, examining it. It was obviously there for a reason... but Mudstar didn't really know.
Reluctantly, Mudstar sat up. He had been waiting on Rockfall for a while now - tonight was a night that announcements had to be made. He called the Clan together: "Let all cats gather below the Rockfall for a Clan meeting."
The cats turned their heads slowly in Mudstar's direction before slowly moving forward. The only cats who really seemed fairly eager were Flashpaw, Streampaw, and the group of former Vine's Rogues members - including Tern.
After the battle, six Vine's Rogues cats had officially joined - or rejoined - the Clan. Tern was obviously going to do so - keeping to the promise she made over a moon. The group was largely Rogue Warriors - except for one, Lily, who had taken back her warrior name of Lilyfall soon after joining back. She was the only one of the six not to have a warrior ceremony tonight.
The cats had gathered while Mudstar had been thinking to himself, and when he had finally realized this, he turned back to them. Mudstar gulped, knowing it was his turn to speak. Rising to his paws, he began:
"We will all mourn for our fallen," the leader mewed, causing most of the Clan to nod and bow their heads. "They all sacrificed their lives for TwigClan. But with death comes joy, and with that I would like to give seven cats their warrior names tonight - of which five are former members of Vine's Rogues."
There was a moment of silence, eerie to all the cats. Finally, Mudstar flicked his tail, and mewed: "Flashpaw, Streampaw, Ripple, Ellie, Cherry, Leaf, and Tern - all of you, come forward."
The seven cats stepped forward. Streampaw and Flashpaw's eyes were dull: their mother, Mistfur, was one of the fallen. However, Mudstar knew that Mistfur would be watching her kits from StarClan, and at least the kits' father, Sharpsun, was still alive to celebrate.
"I, Mudstar, leader of TwigClan, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on these seven cats. They have decided to join to you after the Battle of the Vines, and I commend them to you as warriors in their turn. Streampaw, Flashpaw, Ripple, Ellie, Cherry, Leaf, and Tern - do you all promise to uphold the warrior code, and to defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
Streampaw, Flashpaw, and Tern were the first to speak, as all of them knew what they were doing. "I do," the three cats mewed.
Ripple, Ellie, Cherry, and Leaf soon followed, after they realized what was going on. "I do," the four cats echoed.
Mudstar leap down rather awkwardly. This was the first time himself that he had given cats their warrior names, so he was nervous too. "Then by the power of StarClan, I give you your warrior names." He turned to Streampaw and Flashpaw first. "Streampaw, from this moment you shall be known as Streamheart, and Flashpaw, you shall be known as Flashtail. StarClan honors your loyalty and courage, and we welcome you as full warriors of TwigClan."
Streamheart and Flashtail stepped forward, in turn, to lick Mudstar's shoulder. Once they had done, they stepped back, and then Mudstar turned to the next two cats: Ripple and Cherry.
"Ripple, you shall be known as Ripplestripe, and Cherry, you shall be known as Cherrysnow. StarClan honors your strength and your courage, and we welcome you as full warrior of TwigClan."
Ripplestripe and Cherrysnow followed the lead that Streamheart and Flashtail had taken, and next up was Leaf and Ellie.
"Leaf, you will be Leafdusk, and Ellie will be known as Elmdawn. StarClan honors your curiosity and enterprise, and we welcome you as full warriors of TwigClan."
After Leafdusk and Elmdawn had licked Mudstar's shoulder and stepped back, there was only one cat that remained - Tern. The tortoiseshell she-cat was staring at Mudstar intently as she waited for her warrior name. And Mudstar knew the perfect name for her.
"Tern." Mudstar breathed the name. "You have done so much for the Clan." Raising his voice, he gave Tern her warrior name: "From this moment on, you shall be known as Ternheart. StarClan honors your dedication and your courage, and we welcome you as a full warrior of TwigClan."
Once Ternheart had stepped back, all the cheering started in great acclaim. "Ternheart! Elmdawn! Leafdusk! Cherrysnow! Ripplestripe! Flashtail! Streamheart!" the Clan mewed in unison, and all of this made Mudstar know that the Clan would accept everyone.
The terror of being attacked in the past few moons was finally over.
Newleaf had started to sweep through the forest, the plants giving off fresh new life. Mottlestreak had always admired this season, even from when he was a kit beside his mother's belly. It seemed that now, the Clan was fully recovering.
The Clan had grown strongly. Sorrelburr's kit had recently become an apprentice: Windswift and Shadefire had also born kits to the Clan. The Clan had been thriving with new life.
After all that lost we faced. Mottlestreak dipped his head slowly, not daring to look up. It was hard, considering that his mother Featherdrift, had died in battle. None of his parents had gotten to see him and his siblings, Brindleheart and Perchleap, become warriors.
To Mottlestreak, everything was so bittersweet, as he remembered those two fateful moons. However, the white-streaked black tom knew he was moving.
With Ternheart, he purred softly inside his mind. Together, we will support TwigClan through all these moons to come.
In Ternheart's mind, as the green leaves started to grace the trees around TwigClan once more, it seemed like a full circle to her.
Last time the leaves had turned his colour, she was young, and carefree. She knew all about the Clans - at the time, there would have still been all three of them - and as those leaves were getting really to change colour, she joined Vine's Rogues.
Ternheart remembered Claw, and shuddered. She didn't need to think of the former Vine's Rogues leader now. He had rarely entered her mind nowadays - she had moved on since then. Now, she had other places to wander in.
Her former Vine's Rogues members had settled well into Clan life. They were respected along every other warrior that the Clan had - and every cat was thankful for Mudstar, and the way he had shown hospitality for them. If Ternheart hadn't come across the TwigClan leader, where would she be?
Maybe she could've been alongside Claw and Raven. She could've been dead now. She mightn't have never been a TwigClan warrior... Ternheart shuddered at the thought. But she knew that the decisions she had made all those moons ago were the right ones to take.
I know I made the right decision to change my loyalties, the tortoiseshell she-cat thought, curling her tail over her paws. And I couldn't have asked for anything more.
After death, life hadn't been pleasant for Claw. He'd been stuck in a forest of darkness, and he felt guilty for what he had done.
Ternheart's - then Tern - voice rang in the brown tabby ears: "You've made the wrong decision... and now, it is your time to die."
Claw sighed, and trailed away. Maybe I shouldn't have made such a big deal about losing Fallingstar. Maybe it was for the best...
Mudstar stretched out on the Rockfall, and let the newleaf sun warm his pelt.
Since the battle, many pleasant moons had fallen across TwigClan. Kits had been coming - first Sorrelburr's a while ago, and then Windswift had born his own kits. He looked out for them every day, and he cared for them - unlike the way that Sorrelburr did for him.
Then Shadefire had born her own kits. Mudstar was proud of them, too. His sister's kits were about a moon younger than his own, and both litters were growing alongside one another's with each passing day.
Apart from that, life had been good. No battles had been fought, and every cat had no more physical - or mental ones, as far as Mudstar knew - wounds. Thanks to Honeyshine and Gustwind, the Clan had been all well.
Mudstar sighed, and sat up lazily. That was so long ago now... and I can't believe it's been over for that long.
The brown-and-white leader then sighed, but then he purred. But then again... every decision that was made, every claw and tooth thought... it was all meant to happen. And now, every cat is thriving.
I wrote this story over a seven-month period, but about the last half of it I've had a real urge to write, so I'm very happy to say that this has been finished. :3
In terms of the Fighting For Worth Series.... there will be a second arc. The main character has not appeared formally in this book - however, they are mentioned, not by name, in the epilogue. (hinthinthint) Eventually, the first book in this second arc will be Forever Silent.
However, in terms of chronological order, Fighting Fire, succeeds this, and this time Brams is doing a collab for it with another user. c: It'll put a spin on things for the second arc, and I hope to get most of it done before the second arc is indeed being written.
I do hope you enjoyed this - and constructive criticism is appreciated. :3
Until next time,