Wind blew over the tree tops like water flowing over rocks. Mice curled up in their dens, sheltered from the cold outside. An almost leaf thin layer of snow covered the hard ground. Fallen branches and rotting logs laid on the ground next to old oak trees.
Nearby a small she-cat sat next to the river. Her dark gray, almost black fur looked like the soot left over from an old burned out fire. Her eyes were as green and as soft as the nearby moss uncovered from the snow by the winds. Her long tangled fur stood on end as she shivered in the cold air.
Leaf-bare, when does it ever end?
The she-cat stopped pondering for a moment, to gaze out at the frozen river her Clan usually fished from. The ice was cracked in a few spots, and the apprentice remembered the warning her mentor gave her.
"During leaf-bare, our Clan turns away from the river for food, and into the forest where prey is hiding. Many cats have died getting trapped under the ice and our Clan can't afford to lose cats during such a crucial time. Surviving leaf-bare with as many cats as possible not only shows the other Clans that we can survive during the hardest season, but it also proves to ourselves how strong we are,"
The she-cat then looked up towards the sky. The sky once so full of light was covered in gray clouds. A small slither of the sun was visible. A ray of light in a dark abyss.
Storm clouds. Hopefully it doesn't snow too much.
She knew it was starting to get darker even without being able to see most of the sun. The shadows around her grew bigger and bigger as the little light that had once been disappeared from the forest.
I miss the stars.
The stars that had once been so luminous would be covered by the dark clouds. The moon would be gone too, also covered by the concealing clouds.
The forest around her was now almost devoid of colour. The red petals of a wilting rose appeared gray instead of it's usually vibrant red. The bush the flower was attached to was otherwise completely void of roses.
That bush probably won't survive this frost. predicted the she-cat.
Sometimes, she wondered how anything could survive the sharp chill of leaf-bare. Reminding herself that sadly, this was not that worse part of leaf-bare, she stood up. Her short stubby legs were lightly covered in snow. Shaking it off, she shivered feeling a cold breeze sweep through the trees. Her eyes glanced around at the trees in front of her, their dark thick trunks seemed to appear from nowhere as she padded forward.
Dead leaves almost as thin as a piece of fur, disintegrated with a soft crunching sound as the soot coloured she-cat walked on top of them. Her soft paw pads weren't as hard as other cats, and she flinched as she stepped onto a sharp rock.
"Ouch!" She exclaimed.
Lifting up her paw, she inspected the pad to make sure she didn't cut it. Placing it back down on the forest floor she continued forward, complaining in her head about how the snow blocked sharp sticks and rocks from view.
The night was as silent as a cat stalking it's prey and the darkness of the forest felt almost tangible.
She slowly crept onwards, careful not to hurt her paw again. Every so often her mossy green eyes would glance around at her surroundings.
The silence had been shattered. The night that had been completely void of sound ended. Somewhere throughout the endless stretch of trees, two cats were talking.
Who else would be up in the middle of the night?
Her curiosity aroused, she slowly crept forward trying to get closer to the cats. A juniper appeared in front of her. It's tiny branches were as barren as a desert. The medicine cat had most likely collected the berries before the first frost. The soot coloured she-cat glanced around the bush, and looked into a clearing.
It was too dark to see the cat's fur colouring, and she couldn't recognise the outline of the two cats, but she knew the voices.
The first voice was calm like a lake on a windless day. "You don't have to do this," It was Brownstar, IceClan's leader.
"You are weak," came the second voice. It was as sharp as a rose thorn, and the apprentice instantly knew it belonged to her mother, Mousestrike.
Mousestrike was probably the most contradicting name in the entire Clan. Mouse usually means a cat is shy, or smaller than other cats, but strike was a suffix for a fierce cat. One who was not afraid to show his or her claws.
IceClan had a different tradition than other clans. Instead of giving kits an official prefix right after they were born, IceClan queens would temporary give their kit a loner name until the queen knew enough about their kit to give a more suitable name. Because of that, most kits in their first moons were called Spots, Stripes, or White, along with a few other general names.
After her first three moons, she had been named Mousekit. She never liked being around other kits, preferring to hide by herself in a corner.
Once she became an apprentice, she was given a caring mentor. Mousepaw was still shy and very antisocial, but that all changed once her mentor died. The Clan was in the middle of the worse greencough epidemic in seasons. The only warrior well enough to train Mousepaw was an arrogant tom named Fireclaw. The ginger mentor's personality matched his fiery pelt and he wanted the leader position. The only problem, he had almost no supporters and Mudstar, the current leader at the time, didn't want to give him an apprentice. After much persuasion, Fireclaw became Mousepaw's mentor and her life changed.
There were no more kind words of encouragement whenever Mousepaw needed help, only sharp words of disgust. The tom was set on making his apprentice like him in every way.
He died a moon before Mousepaw's warrior ceremony, but his influence would forever change her. She was no longer the shy cat she once was. Mousepaw now had her mentor's temper and ambition.
The she-cat everyone thought would be named Mouseheart, take a kind mate, have two litters, then retire, had new plans. First of all, she needed to become deputy.
The current deputy's name was Brownfur. A loyal warrior, sometimes thought as being too trusting. No one was surprised when she become his mate. He was always oblivious to her ambition and still remembered her as the kind apprentice she once was. Plus getting close to the deputy was one way to getting the position next. Everyone but Brownfur knew that the words about how she cared about her Clan were fake. Their warnings fell on deaf ears as he insisted that they were wrong. It was when she became pregnant that he realised her true intentions.
Mousestrike had never intended on becoming pregnant, she expected to be deputy by now. Mudstar was the oldest leader of all three Clans and she was barely able to walk each day. Brownfur at this time had taken over almost of her duties. Mousestrike instantly knew that Mudstar would not last long enough for Mousestrike's kits to become apprentices. She tried to convince the entire Clan she wasn't expecting, and even got another queen to agree to raise the kits, but Brownfur soon found out. His discover caused him to question Mousestrike's motives. He then knew her true intentions. Not wanting to make her deputy, once Mudstar died, he made Sandpelt deputy instead. He knew that Sandpelt was one of the most trusted cats in the Clan, and making her deputy would make Mousestrile have a harder time with finding followers.
Mousestrike gave birth to a litter of four kits, who were eventually named, Ivykit, Cricketkit, Frostkit, and Sootkit. From the instant they were born, Mousestrike raised them to be as ambitious as she was. Unfortunately she also taught her kits to look down upon cats that weren't ambitious or strong, which meant one of the kits, Sootkit, was excluded. And that is also why Sootkit, now Sootpaw had spent her evening out in the forest. Why would she want to go back to the apprentice's den when her siblings hated her. She had her mother's old personality. The personality before Fireclaw had corrupted Mousepaw's mind.
That was also why Sootpaw knew she should walk away the clearing now. Mousestrike hated Sootpaw, she knew her kit wasn't ambitious or devious as she was, and Sootpaw had spent most of her kit days alone or playing with kits from other litters. If Mousestrike knew Sootpaw was eavesdropping on her, Sootpaw would be in trouble. Though Brownstar was there, and the instant he knew that one of his kits hadn't been corrupted by Mousestrike, he always tried to protect her. Whenever one of her siblings teased or bullied her, he always punished them, but he didn't always know when it happened. He was leader of an entire Clan, and sometimes he was too busy and didn't notice.
Sootpaw peered into the clearing, the outlines of her parents looked like they could be rocks. Neither Mousestrike or Brownstar moved that much, the only movement was an occasional ear flick.
"You should have made me deputy instead of that weak Sandpelt," Mousestrike's voice was rough and low. Sootpaw could tell she was getting more angry then usual.
Brownstar's voice was calmer. "You would have been a horrible deputy..."
"I would have made a wonderful deputy and an even greater leader..."
"You would destroyed the Clan by bringing them into pointless battles. Cats would have been lost,"
"Cats that are way to weak to survive on their own. Cats that should be killed,"
"They are loyal members of FrostClan,"
"You've always had a soft spot for weak cats that should just die,"
"No they shouldn't!" Brownstar's voice was starting to get louder, a sign he was loosing his patience.
"Yes, they should, and now you are going to pay for it,"
That was when Sootpaw heard the shriek. A shriek of a cat in trouble.
What's going on?"
It was too dark, and Sootpaw couldn't see a thing.
I need to hide!
Sootpaw glanced around her. Nearby a tree's roots covered a small den. It smelled as bad as a bird's rotten egg, but the soot coloured she-cat didn't want to have Mousestrike find her. Whatever just happened, she didn't believe she was suppose to witness.
The sound of claws ripping through skin reached the apprentice's ear, and she curled up frightened.
Paw steps walked towards her direction and she scrunched up even smaller hoping to StarClan she wouldn't be find.
The paw steps drew nearer and nearer. Then they slowed down near her tree.
One step, then another.
A twig snapped outside her hiding place and Sootpaw almost gasped in fright. The paw steps stopped and the tension become so thick, Sootpaw felt she could cut it with her claws. Any move could alert the cat she assumed was Mousestrike, of her whereabouts.
Leaves were rustled right outside of her den, and Sootpaw was thankful for the stench. Her long soot fur she often hated because of how long and tangled it was kept her warm and from shivering.
Then she heard more paw steps, but this time, she could tell they were headed away from the tree. Sighing in relief, she stayed in the den, trying to control her rapid breathing.
Finally gaining the courage to go look to see what happened, she stood and almost instantly fell back down. Her legs felt like she was standing on a loose rock, and she took a few huge breaths before trying again.
Sootpaw slowly walked out of the tree, it was still well in the middle of the night, and she still had no visibility.
Padding into the clearing her paws felt something sticky and wet, but she wasn't completely sure what it was. Until Sootpaw saw the body.
Brownstar's dead body laid in the middle of the clearing. It took her a few moments to be able to see his brown tabby fur, but she knew it was him.
Then, she realised what she was standing in. Her body wobbled, and Sootpaw almost fainted. Her head was nauseous, and she instantly turned, and ran.
Her heartbeat increased as she realised what just happened. Sootpaw raced through the forest, she didn't care were she went as long as it was away from that clearing.
Every second felt like Mousestrike was going to come out of the darkness and kill her too. Fear made her heartbeat speed up even more, and adrenaline kept her moving.
Branches coming out of the dark forest looked like Mousestrike's claws aiming for her throat. Every sound around is like her mother stalking her and planning to kill her too.
A owl hooted in the distance, and Sootpaw ran even faster, every noise seemed like the very last thing she would ever hear.
Faster and faster until she tried to jump over a log and didn't quite make it over. Her back leg hooked on the log, causing her to tumble to the ground. Pain filled her body, and she felt like she had ran into a rock wall. Glancing at her surroundings, Sootpaw noticed that she had arrived back at the river.
Her paws were still covered in blood, and the apprentice realised she needed to clean her fur, or else someone would believe that she had done it. No one would believe her that Mousestrike had just killed Brownstar. Her father had been the only one who would ever listen to her. All three of her siblings had inherited their mother's ambitious and thought Brownstar was weak. Even if they believe her, they wouldn't care.
Most of the Clan thought she was a liar, when ever her siblings got into trouble, they almost always blamed her. It was hard to win an argument three to one.
Sandpelt might trust her, the she-cat did help sometimes when Frostpaw, Cricketpaw, and Ivypaw bullied her, but Sootpaw wasn't sure. In the end, Sootpae didn't believe that Sandpelt would trust her more than Mousestrike, even knowing the she-cat's past.
Blackleaf might, the medicine cat had always been one Sootpaw had confided in. Though she was still an apprentice, and would a medicine cat really believe an apprentice.
If there's no one I can tell, I need to keep this to myself.
Sootpaw dug her claws into a tree's rough bark. Reaching with her front paw, she dragged herself up. The she-cat's mossy green eyes stared at her destination, the top of a old oak tree. Her mentor had decided to prefect her tree climbing abilities, and had her climb up and down the highest tree in the forest multiple times already.
I feel like I've climbed to StarClan.
The soot coloured she-cat's legs ached and she had a sigh of relief once she pulled herself up onto a branch. Looking back down, she saw her mentor's dark holly coloured eyes look at her expectantly.
"Are you just going to stand there all day?"
Sootpaw mentally groaned before leaping onto the next branch. At least once she got up the trunk it got easier. Her mentor usually wasn't this strict and demanding, but after Brownstar's body was found everyone began to act differently. Sootpaw's mentor, Hollyheart, had been hurt more than any other cat, as Brownstar had been her older brother, and had helped raised her once their parents died.
Sootpaw felt the bark come off a branch when she clawed it like scales being pulled off a fish. She didn't know who to confide in, even though she had promised herself to keep it a secret, it also felt wrong. It had been two sunrises since his murder, and a fair amount of cats were scared that the murder was among them.
And I refuse to tell them who it is.
Sootpaw's mind flashed back to when they brought Brownstar's body into camp.
"I wonder where Brownstar is, he hasn't been seen all day," commented Bluepaw. The ginger and white tom turned his head to look at the apprentices around him.
"Maybe he's finally leaving, good riddance," hissed a she-cat. The black stripes going across her fur almost looked like ivy climbing up a tree.
"I think Ivypaw is right. He probably finally realised how useless he is," meowed a blue-eyed tom.
Sootpaw sat in the corner, her ears felt as hot as fire, and she kept quiet. Her eyes were turned to the den floor. Bluepaw sat not far away, his fur was ruffled, obviously shocked at what the apprentices were saying.
"You shouldn't talk about your leader that way!" a tom stood up, his entire pelt was as black as night except for a splash of white on his chest. The tom's bright yellow eyes flashed angrily as he spoke, "He's also your own father how can you talk about him that way!"
"Because he's weak Nightpaw" responded a brown tabby she-cat.
"Cricketpaw, Frostpaw, and Ivypaw, I can't believe the things you are saying!" Nightpaw turned to look towards Sootpaw, "At least she doesn't say those things,"
"The piece of foxdung is too weak too do anything, her opinion doesn't matter," answered Frostpaw.
Bluepaw opened his mouth to defend her, but yowls from outside of the den alerted everyone that something was wrong.
Cricketpaw glanced outside, "There's too many cats to see what's going on, come on!"
Sootpaw's stomach felt like rose thorns were being stabbed into her. She knew exactly what was making everyone so alarmed. She slowly padded outside, her legs barely wanting to move. Her mossy green eyes stared down at the ground. She felt the sun warm up her pelt, and Sootpaw knew she was in the clearing. Looking up, there he was.
All around her cats were scared and worried. Most of them wondering how their leader could have died on their own territory. None of them knew, besides her and Mousestrike.
Speaking of Mousestrike, where was the gray and white she-cat?
Turning behind her, Sootpaw noticed the she-cat standing a little ways from the body. Her icy blue eyes turned to look at Sootpaw, and the apprentice felt like Mousestrike could read her mind.
She can't know, right?
Sootpaw instantly looked away, her eyes focused on the ground. Trying to think of anything, but Mousestrike's eyes. Her icy blue knowing eyes. It's like the warrior could look into her soul and be able to know everything.
Sootpaw didn't know how Mousestrike could tell her scent in the horrid stench that leaked out of her hiding place, or see her dark gray fur in a moonless night, but she knew. Somehow she knew.
And those eyes were what Sootpaw was thinking about in the tree with her mentor far below her. She could only think about how frightened she looked when Mousestrike looked at her. How weak she looked. How those sharp cold eyes knew that she would be easy to get rid of.
Sootpaw breathing stopped, suddenly, it fell she was drowning in an endless lake. She was dead, she wouldn't live that much longer. Not while Mousestrike knew. The apprentice didn't even notice Hollyheart's calls to hurry up and climb the tree, all she was thinking of was her end.
Light shone through the through the thick tree branches like the sun shinning through the clouds on a cloudy day. It was a rare warm day in leaf-bare and prey was more abundant than it had been in a while. Mice scurried through the dead leaves on the ground, their eyes searching for food, unaware of what was stalking them.
A soot coloured paw was placed down near to an old tree. The oak tree's bark was falling off, and moss covered it's side. It's roots could be seen above underneath the brown leaves. Moons of rain had uncovered the roots from the hard ground. Another paw follow the first one, it was placed carefully down on top of the root. The owner of the paws soon appeared, Sootpaw's mossy green eyes stared intently at one of the mice.
Slowly, slowly. the now nine moon old apprentice reminded herself.
Crack! A sharp noise echoed through the forest. Sootpaw's head shot up, her eyes trying to find the source of the disturbance. The mice had scurried back to their dens at almost lightning speed, and the dark gray she-cat knew it would take forever for the prey to come back out.
"Don't you recognise it when your siblings are trying to scare away your prey?" inquired a voice.
Sootpaw mentally groaned. If Cricketpaw was here, Ivypaw wasn't far behind. Sighing, she turned to see her two siblings walk out from behind the tree. Ever since Blueheart and Nightfoot had been made warriors, her siblings had become more and more insufferable.
"Why are you here?" questioned Sootpaw, but she was positive she already knew the response.
"To annoy you of course," responded Ivypaw rolling her blue eyes. She flicked her white tail back and forth, "Also, to force you to do stuff for us,"
"It's your hunting assessment," began Sootpaw, "you should do it..."
"Do you want us to make your life worse?" demanded Cricketpaw. Her leaf green eyes flickered with anger.
Sootpaw sighed, "Fine, where do I leave the prey?"
"By the old cedar tree. There should be a burrow under one of it's roots," answered Ivypaw, her icy eyes glared at her sibling.
Sootpaw shivered, wishing her sister hadn't inherited their mother's eyes.
"Better hurry or you won't pass your own assessment, and if you don't catch enough prey for us, no one will ever know what happened to you," Cricketpaw. The she-cat turned to walk away, but not before shoving a pile of melting snow into her sister's face.
"Weakling!" called Ivypaw as the two cats padded out of view.
If I'm the weakling, how come you need me to catch your prey?
Sootpaw kept her mouth closed though, knowing that saying that would only get her shoved into a rose bush, or taunted more.
Looking up at the sky, she noticed the sun had reached the highest point of it's path. It's rays shining through gaps in the bare trees almost made it feel like green-leaf. The cold winds that had blew through the forest a moon or two ago seemed like a fading memory.
Better get going.
The forest once void of almost all colour was now coming back to life. Small leaf buds littered trees, and vibrant flower petals blossomed out of luscious green stems.
Sootpaw sat in the middle of the clearing, a moon later and green-leaf was starting. Earlier than usual, but that made the apprentice happy, no more forest prey, now she could go back to fishing.
A small daffodil was blooming in the middle of IceClan's camp, and Sootpaw batted it back and forth with her small paws.
"All cats old enough to leave camp come here for a Clan meeting!"
A wonder what it is about, mused Sootpaw turning her moss green eyes towards Nightrock.It's around two moons at least before me and my siblings can become warriors.
Sandstar stood at the top of the rock, her soft amber eyes surveyed the camp, watching her Clan come and sit in front of her.
Instead of being black like one would picture a rock called Nightrock to be, it was actually the same dull gray as every other rock in the forest. According to elder's tales, it had actually been named after the ancient leader Icestar's deceased sister.
That rock has been there for a long time.
A dark brown tom made his way up to the rock. His fiery amber eyes glanced around at the cats sitting near him before sitting down right next to the rock.
Sootpaw rolled her eyes, Cedarstorm, the deputy appointed after Brownstar's demise may act arrogant and mean, but everyone knew he actually cared about cats in his Clan. His stubborn attitude, but secret kindness, made him a wonderful choice for deputy. Especially since Sandstar was more mellow and calm.
"Cats of IceClan," began Sandstar, "There have been foxes spotted at the IceClan, DustClan border, along with our border with GrassClan. I will be sending two patrols to deal with the problem, but before then, no one is allowed to leave camp alone, and apprentices must be accompanied by a warrior,"
Worried meows passed through the crowd of cats. The foxes would be taking precious prey that the Clan needed.
"Mousestrike, Swiftfoot, Cricketpaw, and Dappletail will go to the GrassClan border. Hollyheart, Blueheart, Flamecloud, and Sootpaw will go to the DustClan border. That is all,"
Good thing Ivypaw isn't going, that wouldn't end well.
The she-cat looked to where her sister was fuming by the apprentices den. Her blue eyes looked like thorns ready to stab another cat, angry that her sister was picked instead of her. Sootpaw padded over towards the other cats in her patrol.
"Time to go to the DustClan border," meowed Flamecloud. His fiery ginger coat was bright in the sun, and splashes of white covered his back. His eyes glanced towards the camp exit. "Let's go,"
"It's your fault that the fox is on our side of the border!"
Sootpaw sighed, her mossy eyes gazed around the forest as she listened to the cats arguing. Once the patrol had reached the border, they had noticed the fox scent had gone over the border. A nearby DustClan patrol had spotted them and accused them of chasing the fox over the border.
"We were going to chase the fox over the...," began Blueheart.
"So you admit it!" snarled one of the DustClan cats. His brown tabby fur almost blended in with the dusty moor behind him.
"We were going to," emphasised Hollyheart. Her holly green eyes flickered impatiently. "Can't we go?"
"Not until we figure this out," demanded a DustClan she-cat. Her amber eyes glared at the enemy cats, "We all know how untrustworthy IceClan cats are,"
"That's not true!" Hollyheart growled.
Glancing at the cats, Sootpaw noticed Flamecloud looking at the ground, his yellow eyes staring at nothing.
Probably day dreaming.
The tom was know for being absent-minded and having his head up in the clouds.
"Flamecloud, you and Sootpaw should go to the GrassClan border. Blueheart and I can handle these weaklings," ordered Hollyheart, her eyes never leaving her enemy.
"Time to leave," meowed Sootpaw, she pushed Flamecloud lightly to wake him from his day dream.
"What?" meowed Flamecloud, his eyes confused.
"Me, you, GrassClan border. We are to see if Mousestrike's patrol needs help," Sootpaw shivered lightly as if it was windy as she mentioned Mousestrike's name.
"Oh," responded Flamecloud, "I guess we should get going,"
"Preferably before Hollyheart's retorts start a border fight," added the apprentice.
Yowls echoed through the trees and the two cats gained speed. Leaping over a fallen log. Sootpaw slowed down to a jog.
"Sounds like they ran into trouble," remarked the ginger tom.
Sootpaw nodded her head in agreement. She speed up, enjoying the feel of soft dirt on the ground, instead of the hard cold ground her paws had grown use to.
Emerging from the trees, Sootpaw instantly noted how fast the river was flowing. The ice and snow melting from higher grounds had ran into the river making it faster than normal. Small white rapids were present next to once moss covered rocks.
Nearby, the patrol was battling two foxes. One was larger than the other, by bother were formidable foes for the attacking patrol. Cricketpaw and Dappletail were taking on the smaller fox. Both had wounds going down their sides, though they seemed to have the upper paw. Swiftfoot and Mousestrike fought fiercely against the stronger fox. Mousestrike was almost completely unharmed while Swiftfoot had blood flowing through his gray tabby fur, staining his white belly. His gray stripped paws kept slipping on the soft riverbank, causing him unable to keep a strong stance.
Sootpaw leaped into battle next to Cricketpaw and Dappletail. Her claws slashed at the foxes side. The foxes claws caught her in the side and her along felt like it was being ripped off her body.
"Move over!" snarled Cricketpaw, shoving her sister out of her way. She raked her sharp claws on the fox's muzzle right before it raced away away from the cats. "Stop being so worthless,"
Sootpaw turned around towards Mousestrike and Swiftfoot, not wanting to give her sister the satisfaction of seeing how badly her words hurt her.
Racing over to the last fox. She noticed a gray and white spotted pelt next to her.
I thought Mousestrike was fighting the fox?
A harsh shove came from her side, and she flew into the river with a splash.
Did Mousestrike just push me into the river?
The thought crossed Sootpaw's mind as she started to kick her legs. Water began to flow into her mouth, and she struggled to stay afloat.
Just like walking,
The water filling her lungs felt like someone was strangling her with their paws.
Breath slowly and steady. Sootpaw reassured herself.
Panic began to fill her mind as she realised the river was going too fast.
"Help!" shouted Sootpaw, her legs kicking as fast as she could manage. The wound on her side felt like it was on fire every time she kicked her legs.
Where are the other cats?"
A sharp pain hit her side as she slammed into a boulder.
Breath! Sootpaw ordered herself.
"Help!" the she-cat tried to yowl, but water quieted her screams.
Where's help? She panicked, she legs began to feel heavier and heavier. Her long dark fur weighed her down.
Her mind started to blank out. Pain engulfed her body as her head rammed into a boulder.
The apprentice's vision went in and out, and she began to loss her ability to move her legs. Sootpaw's legs stopped functioning, her head fell entirely underwater.
Anxiety filled Sootpaw as she lost track of her surroundings.
Where's up and where's down?
The last thing Sootpaw remembered was a sharp tug on her scruff, then darkness engulfed her.
The breeze rustled the leaves of a large bush making it sound like an animal was scurrying around in the branches. A large radiant sun shone proudly in the cloudless sky. Luscious leaves covered huge healthy trees.
Sootpaw stood at the roots of one of the trees. Her ear was shredded in places, and a large amount of cobwebs covered the side of her head. A large scar covered her side, and every time she moved, pain sheared through her side.
It had been nearly half a moon since she was shoved into the river by her own mother. Of course no one had seen it, and Sootpaw wasn't about to accuse Mousestrike in front of everyone. A few cats were curious about how she got into the water anyway. Both Flamecloud and Swiftfoot had noticed she hadn't been that close to the river to fall in. The apprentice was able to convince that two cats that her memory of what happened had disappeared like a leaf in the wind. The mossy green eyed she-cat had spent almost the entire time unconscious afterwards. It had only been three sunrises since she woke up and Sootpaw was astonished that Blackleaf had let her leave. When she had asked to go out of camp, Blackleaf only told her to be careful.
So, now the apprentice was sitting in the middle of the vibrant forest with nothing to do. Though she still believed it was better than being bored in the medicine cat's den.
A stick snapped not far from where she was sitting, but the soot coloured apprentice ignored the noise. Instead, she turned her attention to a group of doves nesting in a nearby tree. Their soft coos relaxed Sootpaw and she enjoyed the almost near silence.
Another stick was stepped on, and Sootpaw started to wonder if there was a deer nearby. Normally during this time of the year, they would be feasting over on GrassClan's meadows, but the animal didn't sound that heavy, so it was probably an inexperienced fawn.
The bush next to her rustled again in the breeze.
Turning to the bush, Sootpaw couldn't see anything in it's intertwined branches.
Is someone there?
A flash of gray and white fur flew by her. Her heart speed increased.
The next thing she knew, claws as sharp as rose thorns were pressed against her throat.
"Miss me?" snarled a voice. Icy blue eyes stared right into her mossy green ones.
"M... Mousestrike," stammered Sootpaw.
"You really think I'd let you get away with seeing me kill the Clan leader?"
In that moment, Sootpaw's heart seemed to stop. Even though she had played the entire night over and over in her head, and found no possible way for Mousestrike to know, she knew anyways.
Those eyes stared into her soul like daggers, and Sootpaw struggled to breath. Mousestrike's claws pressed down harder on her throat.
"I was going to make it look like an accident, but you survived my attempt to drown you. Though I'm pretty sure you knew I pushed you. You can foul those weaklings you call Clanmates, but not me," Mousestrike's claws dug slightly into Sootpaw's throat. Small rivers of blood began to flow into her fur.
"I really doubt you would ever tell anyone. I could leave now, and I know my secret would be safe. But that would mean leaving a weak cat in my Clan. I hate weak cats," Her eyes flickered angrily at her daughter. "I can't believe you're related to me," and with that, she slashed her claws across Sootpaw's neck.
Mousestrike washed her paws in the nearby stream. She really doubted anyone would accuse her of killing her daughter, but she didn't want any suspicious thoughts roaming around. Not that cats didn't already have those, though less was better.
Now that her daughter and her knowledge was out of the way, Mousestrike could continue her quest for power.
End of Untrusted