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Essay
This page contains a fan fiction written by Buzzy.
This page contains the opinions of the original author(s), and is not patrolled for factual accuracy.
Remember that this story is non-canon. It may contain false characters, plots, or locations.
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This is a murder mystery. Two brothers, warriors of Shadowclan, learn one day their father, who they loathed, has been murdered. They are the two prime suspects of the murder, and they must work together to prove their innocence while discovering who the actual culprit is. With some drama on the side.

A/N: My writing is not at my best here. It is dry and uninspired. I just want to get this done.

Chapter One

"You know, brother," said Blacktalon, "I hate father so much I could kill him." He kneaded his claws into the soft earth, creating a mess that seeped into the fine black fur of his paws. A passing patrol stopped and widened their eyes at his words, and swiftly carried on.

Larchpaw shirked away at his words. "You shouldn't talk that way about our father," he said softly. "You have to find the power within your heart to forgive him." He focused on the lapping of the lake's tide at his paws.

"Forgive him?" sneered Blacktalon. "After all his neglect and debauchery? He took away our childhood, and soon he'll take away my mate, I'm sure of it!"

Larchpaw stood up and pressed his flank to his brother's. Blacktalon's trembling subsided. He was the only surviving kit of their father's first litter with his first mate, who died of sickness a few moons after Blacktalon was born. Addernose was never suited for fatherhood, and soon forgot he even had a son. Blacktalon was raised with the aid of other queens, and was apprenticed shortly before Larchpaw was born to Addernose's second mate, who he caused to go insane and flee Shadowclan. Their names aren't relevant to this tale.

During Blacktalon's time as an apprentice, he saw more and more of his father, who was completely oblivious to his existence thanks to a life rife with ingesting stolen catnip and investing his time into meetings with she-cats from other clans. If anyone tried to reprimand him on his behaviour, he would yowl a series of bitter rants at them and retreat into his corner of the den, hissing antisocially at anyone who ventured near.

Thus Blacktalon, with the aim of grabbing some attention and praise from his father, emulated this behaviour and fell into a life of misbehaviour and debauchery, resulting in a ban from gatherings, several scars on his pelt and rumours of a kit or two across the border. He lived with a sprit as free of the wind and filled his days with sensual pleasures, like lying in the midday sun with the warm water lapping against his thick pelt.

Larchpaw, on the other hand, lived meekly and quietly. From the moment he gained sentience he felt drawn to the medicine den and the wonders of Starclan and their guidance. Others remarked that he was sunshine in cat form: whenever someone heard his light pawsteps, or see his bright green gaze, they would be filled with joy and hope as bright as the sun in greenleaf. Larchpaw loved for no reason. He loved life and Starclan's miracles, and he even loved his father, who felt affection for him in return, much to Blacktalon's jealousy. Larchpaw was not strikingly handsome, or a fine warrior, nor a good orator, but his simple approach to live and neighbourly love gave him a place in the hearts of many. It was Larchpaw who made Blacktalon realise his wrongdoings and the vileness of their father.

"Excuse me?" A she-cat's voice sounded behind them.

Larchpaw turned around to face her. She was the head of the small patrol that had passed them earlier, and her eyes burned with a vile feeling, flitting between both of them like they were nonchalant trespassers.

Blacktalon jumped to his feet as he recognised his mate, Poppyfoot, standing behind the she-cat. They locked eyes for a moment and she dragged her gaze away, as if she was embarrassed.

"Your father has been murdered," she spat curtly. "Hazelstar thinks you're both prime suspects."

Chapter Two

"What?" cried Blacktalon. "Not Larchpaw, surely! He's sweeter than a mother's milk mixed with honey!"

The she-cat eyed him suspiciously. "And yet you don't make any effort to defend yourself?"

Blacktalon attempted to splutter a response. The she-cat grunted and turned away, beckoning with her tail for the brothers to follow.

Addernose's body had been discovered by an apprentice in the furthest stretch of land from the lake. The fur around the throat was matted with blood, and the limbs were splayed out awkwardly as if he had been fighting for his life. Addernose was old and close to retirement, but his limbs were still muscular enough to aid him well in a fight.

"The blood has long been dry," remarked the she-cat. "The apprentice who found him suspects he had been killed late last night, while everyone else was sleeping."

"What was he doing outside camp this late?" asked Larchpaw quietly. He had always been blissfully unaware of his father's unorthodox behaviours.

The she-cat shrugged. "I don't know or care. What's relevant here is that he's been murdered, and someone did it." She twisted her body to face Blacktalon. Their noses were almost touching. "I heard what you said by the lake. You're as transparent as clean water, Blacktalon. You're the one caterwauling about your woes and drama for the whole camp to hear. Don't pretend you weren't involved."

Larchpaw rushed between them. "No!" he cried. "Blacktalon is a very passionate cat but he would never kill our father! His soul is too innocent for that. He's not wicked at all!"

The she-cat scowled. "Then how come I keep hearing news of what he's been up to with she-cats from other Clans at every gathering? All those border skirmishes? Desperately following in his father's footsteps for one shred of attention? The jealousy over Poppyfoot? The loud arguments in the camp each night? It was all leading up to this. To deny it is foolish."

Blacktalon bowed his head. "You can say whatever you want. I'll never plead guilty."

"Are there any other suspects?" Larchpaw asked hopefully.

The she-cat tilted her head to the side. "Oh, there's cats who were feuding with him from every clan for a multitude of reasons. One claims Addernose made a creepy comment about his daughter, another claims he stole pretty from within their borders with no remorse. If you talk to someone, there's a high chance they wanted to sink their teeth into him too, now that I think about it," wondered the she-cat.

"We need an investigation!" urged Larchpaw. "It's unjust to condemn a cat with no evidence!"

"You were with him by the lake," said the she-cat. "You heard what he said, about killing his father."

Larchpaw fell silent.

The she-cat looked up. "Hazelstar is expecting us," she said simply. She stared at the body. "What should we do about the body?"

"Addernose doesn't deserve a proper burial," a cat in her patrol jeered.

The she-cat grunted dismissively. "Hazelstar will decide," she sighed, and the group walked off, back to camp.

Chapter Three

As the group entered the camp, Blacktalon frantically searched the crowd of cats for a large pretty she-cat, Grassfoot. The two cats locked eyes for a brief second before Grassfot turned away in shame.

"Is Grassfoot okay?" Larchpaw asked.

Blacktalon shook his head. "People have been saying she used to... be involved with our father. And Father kept talking about making her his mate." He growled and sank his claws into the soft dirt. "Grassfoot is mine! A father attempting to steal his son's potential mate is disgusting!"

"And what about Creampelt?" Larchpaw urged. "I thought you promised to become mates when you were both apprentices in the den. What happened?"

"Don't mention her to me!" Blacktalon snapped. The two brothers settled down near the camp's border, expectantly looking out for the start of a clan meeting. "Her father disgraced me for insolent behaviour... she's at odds with Grassfoot... but part of my still wants her, Larchpaw!"

Larchpaw nodded slowly. He didn't know much about the world of she-cats.

"And Grassfoot... some cats say she was cheating!" hissed Blacktalon. She and Addernose always snuck off together, always went together on patrols... And yet she says she loves me!"

Larchpaw touched muzzles with his brother. "Our father is dead now," he soothed. "You don't have to worry about him anymore."

"But who do I choose?" cried Blacktalon.

"Brother, I think you have a bigger problem than wondering who's going to mother your kits," said Larchpaw with an awkward amused smile as the she-cat form earlier loomed over them.

"I'm hearing whispers about Grassfoot's relationship with your father," she said curtly to Blacktalon, whose fur bristled in response. "The whole drama was pretty high-profile. Many believe you killed him to get him out of the way."

"You hated him too!" snarled Blacktalon.

The she-cat shrugged. "Everyone hated him. Everyone had some sort of drama or feud with him. You just have the sort of... temperament which often leads to violence in a fit of rage."

"What do you mean by that?" cried Blacktalon, jumping up to face her. His lip curled.

The she-cat didn't flinch. "What do you think? Oh and by the way... you might not be the only young cats with familial ties to Addernose." She turned and walked away, unfazed.

"I want to ask my mentor some things," trembled Larchpaw as he stood up. He padded to the medicine den, where his mentor, Cloudheart, busied himself.

"Ah, have you come to hide too?" he croaked as Larchpaw entered. He turned to face his apprentice, green eyes glittering.

"No, I just wanted to ask you some things," said Larchpaw, shuffling his paws awkwardly.

"Go ahead." Cloudheart sat down and wrapped his tail over his paws.

"Did you ever see any suspicious behaviour regarding my father?"

"Hm." Cloudheart tilted his head to the side. "One time while walking to the Moonpool, I caught his scent heading out of the territory, but not to the Moonpool."

Larchpaw straightened up, alert.

"It seems like he was heading to Twolegplace, and judging by the speed and determination at which he ran, it's apparent that he went there regularly."

"But why?" asked Larchpaw.

"I suppose you'll have to travel to Twolegplace yourself and ask around. With my permission of course. Which I am unlikely to give. We need you here at camp. You're still an apprentice, after all."

Larchpaw's head drooped and he sulked out of the den and back to where his brother lay.

Chapter Four

Blacktalon peered at the swarm of cats at the Gathering, then hopped off the fallen tree bridge. She said everyone feuded with Addernose, I suppose this is a great place to start my investigation. I need to prove my innocence!

"Excuse me," he said to a large white she-cat, headbutting his way into her conversation. "I need to ask you a few questions.

"What?" snarled the she-cat.

The off-white tom she was talking to snarled at Blacktalon. "Wolfsong and I were talking! Go take your questions somewhere else. We don't even know you!"

Blacktalon ignored him. "Did you have anything against Addernose, my father?"

"Oh, you mean the guy who died yesterday?" asked Wolfsong. Her gaze sharpened. "Of course I did. He stole my prey once, and after I gave him a few scars to yowl home about, he did it again soon after!"

"Wolfsong, you're drawing too much suspicion to yourself, this cat's investigating his father's death!" hissed the off-white tom.

"So what if I did kill him?" Wolfsong taunted. "He needed to die. Everyone else was just too cowardly to do it."

"Wolfsong, stop!" pleaded the tom she was talking to. He glared at Blacktalon sharply. "Leave before we all cause a scene."

Blacktalon turned away, mulling over the conversation. She was so proud to admit what she could have done... but I've heard stories about Wolfsong. She's like that, violent and bragging about it. Hmmm...

He was jolted out off his thoughts as he bumped into a small black and white she-cat.

"Oops! Sorry!" the she-cat bounded out of the way. "My name's Splashpaw. What's yours?"

"Blacktalon. Hey, listen, do you know anything about a cat named Addernose?"

Splashpaw tiled her head to one side. "When I was younger there was this huge spectacle in camp because this apprentice was pregnant with his kits."

Blacktalon reeled. That she-cat was right! Larchpaw and I aren't the only kits of Addernose!

"Addernose is my father!" Blacktalon exclaimed. "Those kits are my kin!" He shook his head. "I need to keep on track. How did people react?"

"The apprentice's father was so mad. In fact, he went to Shadowclan that next day, even fighting off a patrol, and marched into their camp to vow to kill him!"

"Is he still alive? Is he here?" asked Blacktalon frantically.

Splashpaw shook her head. "Oh he's alive and kicking, but he wasn't chosen to go to the Gathering tonight. He went last time. He was furious about it, though."

"Oh." Maybe he's laying low... "Do you think he killed Addernose?"

"I wouldn't be surprised. I've heard him muttering murder plans in his sleep!"

"Thank you." Blacktalon dipped his head as Hazelstar called for the Gathering to start. "You've helped me a lot. Thank you." He walked back to his clanmates, who promptly turned their backs on him. They think I did it...

He settled down on his own, and watched the proceedings with uninterested eyes. I'll prove it to them, he vowed to himself.

Chapter Five

The sun hung bright and clear in the sky. Larchpaw cheerfully padded into the Thunderclan camp. "Cloudheart sent me! He was busy," he called out.

Something hard and furry crashed into him. He tumbled over and his herbs spilled onto the ground. "Watch where you're going!" an apprentice hissed at him. "You're just as much as a bumbling fool as you father."

"Hey!" Larchpaw cried, hurt. He gathered up his herbs, relieved that they hadn't become too dirty. "Wait, how do you know my father?"

"Everyone knew him," scoffed the apprentice, and bounded onto a smaller tom, who equaled in terror.

Larchpaw rushed over to them, alarmed. "Get off him, pick on someone your own size!"

The larger apprentice just snarled and lunged, sinking his teeth into one of Larchpaw's forelegs.

Larchpaw yelped and rolled away. A warrior rushed into the commotion. "Kestrelpaw! How dare you insult and injure a medicine cat like that!" he growled. He turned to Larchpaw. "I'm sorry, he's always been like this."

Larchpaw nudged the smaller apprentice to his feet, and he scampered off to his mother. "I want to talk to him," he said.

"You'll never get through to him," sighed the warrior.

"It's not about that," said Larchpaw. "It's about my father."

"But you need medical attention! Any wound can be infested!" cried the warrior.

"I can handle that myself in my own time." Larchpaw padded over to Kestrelpaw in the apprentice's den, who was bragging about something to his denmates.

"I want to ask you about my father," Larchpaw said gently.

Kestrelpaw gave him a quick glance and turned away. "Buzz off. I'm busy."

"Consider answering my questions a reparation for needlessly assaulting me earlier. If you fail to comply, I'll tell your leader. I heard Nightstar is tough on unruly apprentices."

Kestrelpaw huffed. "Fine." He signalled for his denmates to leave.

"You have such power over them," Larchpaw remarked.

Kestrelpaw puffed out his chest. "Of course I do. I'm the smartest, strongest, wittiest apprentice this clan has ever seen!"

Larchpaw gave an amused purr. "So, what did you think of my father?"

Kestrelpaw spat on the ground. "He kept crossing our borders to meet up with this clan's she-cats, and playing dumb when they ended up in the nursery with his kits."

Larchpaw's eyes widened. "Really?"

"Really. He did something to them. Mentally, I mean. The camp would be woken up with their hysteric shrieks. They eventually flung themselves off the camp edges into the camp until their necks finally broke."

Bile rose up in Larchpaw's throat. "That's... evil. I had no idea. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. They meant nothing to me."

There was an awkward silence.

"Oh, and I once overheard a she-cat shrieking about Addernose and some kittypet, or rogue, that sort of cat. I couldn't make much out of it though."

A loud voice interrupted them. "Kestrelpaw! Come out here now!"

Kestrelpaw slunk out, anger fuelling his gaze.

That must be Nightstar. Larchpaw listened with curiosity.

"You're not supposed to play with Icepaw! He's sick!" lectured Nightstar. "Pouncing on him like that, claws unsheathed... disgusting behaviour!"

The second-hand embarrassment was too much to bear. Earnest to escape the atmosphere of conflict, Larchpaw crawled out of the apprentice's den and dashed into the medicine cat den, Larchpaw's words swirling in his mind.

Chapter Six

Blacktalon padded through Shadowclan territory, listening out for every crack and rustle in the darkness of the forest.

Larchpaw said I should go to Twolegplace, Addernose had ties there, he probably had a mate there and maybe some kits...

He shouldered his way out of the forest and breathed the cool night air. Nobody had followed him this far. Ahead were several hills overlapping each other. The fresh green grass swayed with the breeze underneath the clear starlit sky. He paused to take it all in. He had never bothered to venture outside Shadowclan territory before.

Behind him, something cracked. He twisted around to see a dark shape hurtling towards him. Something slammed him to the ground and pinned him. Blacktalon snarled.

"I've got him!" called out his attacker. Several other cats emerged from high in the trees.

Blacktalon grappled his opponent and threw him off. Another lunged at him, and he slashed at them, repelling them for a short while. His pursuers formed a circle around him. Blacktalon twisted this way and that, unable to find an opening.

"You were trying to escape!" accused a cat with luminous green eyes. "You're too predictable." His eyes burned into Blacktalon.

"Larchpaw told me to go to Twolegplace!" Blacktalon cried.

Another cat cut him off before he could say any more. "Of course your brother would help you escape and find refuge somewhere else."

"You don't understand!" yelled Blacktalon. "I'm going to Twolegplace to investigate! I never meant to flee!"

Hazelstar stepped forward. "You're lying. Everything adds up to you being the murderer."

"I-" before he could protest anymore, he felt claws dig into his back. A cat had jumped onto him, and he buckled under their weight.

Hazelstar held Blacktalon's head down with a paw. "Addernose may have not been the most popular cat, but that doesn't mean his murderer should walk free. You're coming with us."

Defeated, Blacktalon walked back to camp, flanked by the patrol. His limp, hopless body was flung into the medicine den.

"You can wait here until your interrogation," hissed a cat. "Or you can give up and eat deathberries and peace will be restored to the clan."

Blacktalon sniffed the den. There's no trace of deathberries. No option but to face the interrogation. He curled himself up into a ball to sleep.

Chapter Seven

Blacktalon was awoken by a hard cuff in the ear. He blinked, and his sight came into focus.

Hazelstar's light ginger face stared back at him. He pushed a small piece of prey towards Blacktalon. "Eat." He sat in silence while Blacktalon finished his meal.

"Where were you on the day of Addernose's murder? Tell me everything, from the beginning up until you were apprehended by the patrol."

Blacktalon gulped. "I was on a patrol..."

"With who?"

"I was... alone." Blacktalon bowed his head. This is not going to work out in my favour.

"Hm." Hazelstar watched him curiously. "What were you doing on that patrol?"

"Just having a walk!" Blacktalon cried. "I wanted to get away from all that drama involving Grassfoot."

Hazelstar nodded. "I've been hearing a lot about that. Can you tell me about it, from the beginning?"

"Well..." and Blacktalon launched into the tale of the relationships between him, Grassfoot, Creampelt and Addernose.

When Blacktalon was an apprentice, Addernose was an absent unruly father who had by then forgotten the existence of his sons. One of his favourite pastimes was flirting with the apprentices, one of them being Grasspaw, whom Blacktalon was smitten with at the time. Addernose never realised his son was Blacktalon until the latter confronted him about it, but the confrontation did nothing to change his behaviour. Furious, Blacktalon fled soon after his warrior ceremony, then soon came back with a loner who would become Creampelt. Addernose took no interest in Creampelt and continued pursuing Grassfoot, who was torn between him and Blacktalon like how Blacktalon was torn between her and Creampelt.

Blacktalon and Addernose regularly fought over Grassfoot, and their arguments would sometimes wake up the whole camp in the middle of the night. Several times, Blacktalon had to be pulled off Addernose, who was growing weaker and more feeble with each passing day. And Blacktalon frequently spoke of his murderous rages.

When he had finished, Blacktalon sat huddled along the back wall of the den, shrinking into himself.

"And is there... anyone else you suspect?"

"I talked to Wolfsong at the gathering. She talked a lot about killing Addernose, and how he deserved it. She's the kind of cat to brag about her violence, you know."

Hazelstar nodded.

"Oh! And there was a tom in Riverclan, Splashpaw told me about him. You should ask around there too."

Hazelstar muttered a short word of thanks and left.

So much mounting evidence against me, Blacktalon fretted. I keep digging my own grave.

Larchpaw poked his head in. "Blacktalon! You look awful."

"No kidding." They touched muzzles.

Alderpaw's voice quietened. "I'm going to Twolegplace. Everyone's here awaiting the verdict. Hazelstar won't be back for a few days at least. He's being a bit merciful..."

"Be safe, brother."

"You too."

Chapter Eight

Larchpaw lugged his body through the identical streets. He had been walking for the whole night, and dawn had since passed. He collapsed against a stone wall, panting and watching Twolegs and cats walk by.

A lithe she-cat scrambled into view. She was a dark ginger tabby, with wide amber eyes. She was searching for someone, and was mournfully yowling. "Adder? Adder, where are you?"

Larchpaw's eyes snapped open. He heaved himself to his paws. "Excuse me!" he croaked.

The she-cat noticed him and ran over. "Do you know where Adder is?"

"Adder is my father. And he's dead."

The she-cat's mouth dropped open. There was a long pause. "I- I've been looking for him all night!"

A larger grey tom padded up behind her. He squinted at Larchpaw. "This isn't Adder."

"No. I'm not Adder. I'm his son. And I know him as Addernose."

"That makes no sense!" cried the she-cat.

Larchpaw sighed. "Are you looking for a black and silver tom?"

"Exactly!"

"My father is - I mean was - a black and silver tom named Addernose who regularly visited Twolegplace. Does that fit with what you know?"

"It does." She dipped her head. "You can call me Mindy. Bird here is my son, Adder's son. Adder never mentioned you."

Larchpaw stretched. "He didn't mention a lot of things." He told them all about the Clans and Addernose's actual life. "He lied to you," he said softly. "And now he's dead, and my brother is being falsely accused of his murder."

"How do you know it's a false accusation?" said Bird gruffly.

Larchpaw eyed him suspiciously. "My brother would never do such a thing."

"You might be surprised."

He knows something.

Mindy stroked Larchpaw's back with her thin tail. "You must be grieving so deeply," she murmured.

Larchpaw nodded. "He wasn't the best cat, and he did many bad things to many people, and he didn't even know I was his son until a while ago, but yes, he is my father and I should respect him."

"Adder was my father too," spat Bird, "and he abandoned my mother for months while she was pregnant with me! I owe him nothing. I looked up to him as a kit, and he treated me like dirt."

"My brother and I talked to some cats. Some of them mentioned Addernose visiting Twolegplace regularly. My brother tried to visit, but he was caught and accused of trying to escape, and the next morning he was interrogated. So I've come in his place."

"That's very thoughtful of you. You must love your brother very much," Mindy purred. "Bird, dear, stay here while I go get our friend some food." She turned and left.

Bird turned to face Larchpaw. "You're too soft and forgiving," he grunted.

Larchpaw blinked in surprise. "I think those are wonderful traits."

"You're wrong. They'll lead to you being taken advantage of. Your brother is duping you. If I were him, I would have killed Adder as soon as possible. Hidden his body in the swamp, but that depends on the time."

"What do you mean, the swamp?" growled Larchpaw in a low voice. "How do you know my territory has a swamp?"

Bird's eyes widened for a moment, then he dropped into a defensive stance.

Something clicked in Larchpaw's brain. He's the murderer.

Chapter Nine

"Murderer!" Larchpaw cried.

Bird scrambled away, kicking up small pebbles behind him. He made a sharp left turn and Larchpaw stumbled after him, panting.

I'll never catch him! Larchpaw wailed inwardly. He watched Bird scramble up a wall, who hissed at the dogs howling on the other side of it.

Larchpaw crawled up the wall and stood to face Bird. Both cats had their teeth bared.

"You killed my father," Larchpaw panted. "Our father."

"Adder abandoned me and my mother!" hissed Bird.

"Adder abandoned all the she-cats who mothered his kits! He abandoned my mother too!" yowled Larchpaw.

Bird ignored him. "He never noticed me. He forgot me! He came, stole my mother from me and ran off with her, and I found her out cold the next morning! I was a child. No child should have to go through that. every time he came. I ended up feeling lonelier and lonelier."

"The same happened to me and my brother," said Larchpaw sadly.

"One day I followed him home. It was a hard task, but he was going deaf anyway. It was a morning. He was busy hunting something. I tackled him, pinned him, and bit his throat. My face was the last face he'd ever see. He was so scared! Priceless." He gave a short gruff laugh.

"You're disgusting. You could have just left!"

"My mother would never have forgiven me. She's the only thing keeping me tied to this world."

What do I do with him? "I don't want to fight you," said Larchpaw.

"Of course you won't you're too soft."

"I'll just have to drag you back to my clan by your tail!" Larchpaw cried.

Bird glared at him menacingly. "They'll never believe you. They barely know me! I can just say you're lying and wanted to pin the blame on someone else to save your brother, because you were accomplices together!" he held his tail erect in triumph. "Give up, Larchpaw. There's nothing you can d-"

One of Bird's paws slipped off the wall's edge and he tumbled into the jaws of the waiting dogs. He screeched and yowled pitifully until he could be heard no more. Larchpaw watched this unfold in horror, and limply leapt down the safe side of the wall and came face-to-face with Mindy.

"I couldn't find anything," she said. "I heard those dogs. Where's Bird?" she cried.

"He... he murdered Adder. He was neglected and ignored, and he felt Adder treated you badly," Larchpaw murmured.

Mindy yowled in grief.

"And he... he fled. The dogs didn't get him though," he lied. "He'll be back soon." With guilt clawing at his heart, he stayed the rest of the day with Mindy and left on the journey back to camp.

Chapter Ten

Larchpaw burst into camp at dawn the next day, rejuvenated by a good sleep and a meal. "I know the truth!" he cried.

Hazelstar looked at him curiously. "Where have you been?" he asked.

"I went to Twolegplace. I met a cat, her name was Mindy, and she was looking for Addernose. He was a regular visitor there. He and Mindy had a kit."

Murmurs broke out.

"I suspected those rumours were true," said Hazelstar. "Anything else?"

"I spoke to Mindy's kit. He's an adult. His name was Bird. He confessed he was the murderer. I confronted him and he... died. Fed to dogs."

Hazelstar squinted at him. "A likely story! You said that to save your brother! The cats he told me to investigate were no use. We had a vote. Almost everyone thinks it was him."

Larchpaw's stomach dropped. He spotted his brother, ragged and thin, closely guarded by warriors.

"You've come just in time to say goodbye to your brother before he's exiled," said Hazelstar curtly, and walked off.

Larchpaw was just about to speak to Blacktalon when Grassfoot ran in front of him. Blacktalon's eyes lit up.

"I know who my heart belongs to now!" she cried. "I believe you, Blacktalon. Someone with such a passionate and determined heart could never stoop so low to kill his own father! He was a scoundrel and a liar. I was foolish to ever like him." The two cats twined tails and purred.

"Brother, I'm so sorry, I did everything I could, they just don't believe me!" wailed Larchpaw.

Blacktalon nodded. "I know. I did everything I could too but... some hearts just cannot be swayed." He began to walk out of camp with his guards. "I love you brother. Lead a good life, stay true to yourself."

"No!" cried Larchpaw. "Fight them, brother!"

Blacktalon shook his head sadly. "I must accept the fate handed to me." And then he was gone.

Something overcame Larchpaw's heart that day. From then on he looked at his clanmates with scorn and mistrust, and isolated himself from others, never forgiving them for their 'betrayal'. He never saw Blacktalon again, and his soul was forever scarred by it. Eventually he fled with Grassfoot, and the two travelled together in a desperate search for Blacktalon, wherever he might be. But to this day, Blacktalon walks alone, under stormy skies.

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