I'm a warrior
It takes me a moment to figure out how to get back to IceClan territory but when I do, I collapse in relief. I stand again shakily and stumble towards the last camp we had been at. I stagger through the tunnel and smack right into Aspenpelt.
My partner catches me and shakes me vigorously. “Ravenflight!” he practically shouts, “Where have you been?”
The rest of the fly warrior team surrounds me. “Let’s go back to main camp,” I rasp out, “I think there’s something about the Raiders we don’t know.”
Aspenpelt shoulders me onto his back while Mistsplash hovers uncertainly at my side. Together, we hurry back to main camp.
As I fade in and out of consciousness, I can only think about Artic’s bright blue eyes that shine like two stars on a dark night. His vivid white pelt is warm and close.
I hope he makes it.
I watch with wide eyes when I see Blackthorn haul in a screaming kit. He’s scrawny and his eyes are ferocious but bright. “Shut up, kit,” Blackthorn grunts, “just trying to save you here.
I pad forward cautiously when he drops the brown kit down. Immediately, the kit lunges for me and I squeal in terror before using my strength to leap above his head. His speed was incredible and to my surprise, he matched my jump with one of his own.
Blackthorn plucks the brown kit off of me. “What’s your name, son?” he crouches so he can stare him in the eye.
“Aspenkit,” the kit retorts.
“I like that name,” I tilt my head, “Aspenkit.
“Who are you?” He challenges, puffing his chest out as if he is superior compared to me. My eyes glint with amusement.
Blackthorn nudges us towards the den I’ve been staying in. “I expect both of you to be good friends. You’re going to be partners for the fly warrior project. I didn’t understand most of his words back then but I remember Aspenkit wrinkling his nose in disgust.
“I have to be partners with her?”
The General looks amused. I roll my eyes and begin to clean my paws. “I’m a warrior,” I say proudly, “I’m going to be the best.
Aspenkit eyes me with some sort of disbelief but after weeks of practicing together, we learn that he may have the brains and the brawn, I am faster and sharper than he is.
Like a raven.
I surface from my dream groggily. It takes me about ten seconds to realize that the fly warrior team and Blackthorn are seated near me, talking in rather loud voices.
“You’re telling me that you didn’t know where she went? For two days?” Blackthorn all but shouts, “What exactly did you do to provoke her to run off like that?”
Aspenpelt grimaces. “We had an...argument.”
“You’re a team for StarClan’s sake. I don’t expect you all to be best friends but I do expect that you can get along.” Blackthorn lashes his tail in obvious anger. I blink blearily and I can tell that he’s not actually angry but he’s just furious that this had happened.
“That’s ten demerits, Aspenpelt.”
My partner’s scowl turns in a furious and dark look but he mutters, “Yes, sir.”
I let out a loud groan which causes all of them to cease their conversation and snap their heads around to stare at me.
I sit up slowly and feel all my wounds burn. “Good morning,” I mutter.
“The sun is setting,” Aspenpelt points out.
“Fine, good afternoon.”
Blackthorn frowns. “Ravenflight, you have a lot of explaining to do.” He glances meaningfully at the rest of my team but I shake my head.
“Let them stay,” I close my eyes as my head throbs painfully, “they need to hear this too. We’re in this together after all.” I open my eyes and find six pair of eyes watching me expectantly.
“It wasn’t Aspenpelt’s fault that I ran off.” I begin. The brown tom purses his lips, and he knows that’s not entirely true. “I just wanted prove that we could defeat the Raiders. I wanted to stop all this fear we all had of the Raiders.”
Blackthorn lets out a gusty sigh. “Ravenflight, we can’t have you doing your stunts anymore. This war is more serious than ever. One wrong move, IceClan will fall.”
“We won’t make any mistakes,” Ashshadow mews quietly, “Ravenflight will lead us through this fog for sure.”
Mintsplash nods and she smiles at me.
Sootflight gives one solid nod and Aspenpelt just laughs. “Ravenflight won’t just lead us out of the fog,” my heart plummets, “she’ll lead us to victory.” I smile at his words and he gives me a roll of his eyes.
Blackthorn only stands. “Ravenflight, I expect to see you in my den after Pineshadow is done treating you.”
I nod and he pads out of the den. I sag in relief and Aspenpelt stands too. “I should go work off those demerits while we have time here.” I watch him go stiffly but Mintsplash nudges me.
“He’s just upset that Blackthorn pinned it on him.”
I sigh. Pineshadow finishing binding my wounds and announces that I’m released. “Nothing serious for the next few days,” he warns, “you suffered a few major wounds but you should be fine.” I remember his words about Whiteflame and turn slightly to see the white tom still looking as pale as ever.
“Will he be alright?” I ask in a quiet voice. Perhaps the white tom was another one of my mistakes.
“He’ll be fine,” Pineshadow tells me, nudging me towards the entrance, “he’s in a stable condition. You must ensure that he’s safe here though.”
I nod tersely and together, the fly warrior team helps me out. I stare up at Blackthorn’s den. “What do you think he’ll say?” I mutter as I start towards it.
“You’ll be fine,” Ashshadow says fondly, “he never went hard on you before.”
Sootflight purrs, “See you later, Ravenflight.”
I watch the two of them link their tails together and head towards the prey-pile to get something to eat. I watch them and with a pang of my heart, I realize that Ashshadow was better off staying here at camp instead of fighting.
“Don’t worry about them,” Mintsplash advises, her eyes following mine. “Ashshadow can make her own decisions. She trusts you to help her get through this until she can’t fight anymore. She wants to be out there.”
I glance at the gray she-cat. “So let her.” Mintsplash says firmly, giving me a small smile before following the couple.
I take a deep breath and stalk into Blackthorn’s den. The general glances up at my arrival and waves his tail. “Sit, Ravenflight.”
I do as he says. He seats himself comfortably in his nest and meets my gaze. “Tell me, what really happened?”
“What do you mean?” I blink.
“Start from the beginning of this mess. A few days ago, you told me that a Raider had recognized you. I suspect something kept coming up and you never informed me, which leads us to what happened over the last few days.” Blackthorn’s gaze is as hard as ever but he says this in a gentle tone. “I’m not going to punish you for anything that has happened. But understand it’s important that I know about this.”
“His name is Artic,” I find myself saying, “and when I first met him, it was in the first fight we had against the Raiders. He spotted us first and foiled our sneak attack. He then took me to the side in the battle and indicated that he knew all about us. He knew my name and what a fly warrior was.”
Blackthorn scowls but he doesn’t say a word and waits for me to continue. “Then Whiteflame got hurt and they just all disappeared. When you sent us to the camp to train with a temporary replacement, he was there. At first, I thought he was just spying on the Raiders for us and we...spent the night together I suppose. The next day, the camp was overrun by Raiders and he turned to out to be a Raider. He betrayed us and I assume the Raiders were trying to capture at least one of us. The weird thing was that he was trying to get me out of there.”
“So he as something for you,” Blackthorn concludes.
I shrug. “And then well...Aspenpelt and I had a talk when we were on our mission to root out the spies. He wanted me to let the others help me with the responsibility I felt but I refused. He said it was changing me. I felt...influenced to go out and try another stunt. But I found myself fighting Artic and well…I froze.”
“Which leads us to where we are now?” Blackthorn guesses.
I nod. “He helped me out though.”
Blackthorn takes a deep breath.
“This might just be the turning out of the war, Ravenflight.”
I find Aspenpelt cleaning off his pelt with the rest of the fly warrior team. He looks up. “Turns out Blackthorn took back most of my demerits so I finished early,” he shrugs. He still looks a bit miffed but I’ve learned that he’s always been like that.
“We need to be a team,” I say. All four of them stare at me. “I’m sorry for always pushing you guys away. All of you have the right to help me. A leader listens to her subjects.”
“A good leader does,” Aspenpelt corrects teasingly.
I blush and straighten my shoulders. “We’re facing the toughest enemy we’ve ever known in our lives,” I tell them, “so we have to be prepared. We need to trust each other and learn how each other works. It’s not just the relationship between partners. We as a team have to be together.”
“I’ll follow you anywhere,” Mintsplash puts her paw over mine.
Ashshadow and Sootflight nod and put their paws too.
Aspenpelt stares at our paws for a moment and then wordlessly places it on top.
“To the fly warrior team,” I begin.
“And to our victory!”
And you can never hurt me again