Rainpaw barely knew what happened after he fell into darkness. He remembered slightly that he'd woken just long enough to see Robinpaw sitting by him, looking worried and guilty. It faded, but then he awoke again. This time he could hear Snowdrift and Ravenstar talking, although it wasn't really clear. "StarClan" was said a lot, alone with "The Prophecy cat".
Rainpaw also continued to have nightmares, but this time they were different. According to his dreams, he was a killer, a murderer. He kept visioning himself with dark blue eyes and unsheathed claws. It made him shiver every time. What was he thinking? Why was he thinking it? He never wanted to kill like that; he'd always want to leave it to someone else unless they were hurting the one person he wanted to keep safe. He didn't have that person anymore, so why did he want to kill?
"You are changing, young one," answered a familiar voice. "You have nearly learned what it is to be loyal." Rainpaw looked up from the stupid, annoying darkness that kept returning. Cheetahfur, the first cat he'd ever seen before he'd been turned into a cat, was standing in front of him, a smile on her face.
"Cheetahfur!" said Rainpaw happily. After being alone in darkness for what seemed like hours, he was lonely. Any person or cat was okay at the moment.
"Hello," said Cheetahfur, purring with amusement. "Did you figure it out?" Rainpaw tilted his head.
"Figure what out?" Rainpaw asked. "I've been stuck in here, so of course I didn't."
"What do you mean?" asked Cheetahfur. "This is your mind; it is the best place to figure things out." She then looked around, making a very strange face. "Though I can see why you don't think in here. It's way too gloomy." Rainpaw, however, was thinking of other things.
"This . . . this is my mind?" asked Rainpaw, eyes widened with shock. Cheetahfur looked at him and then nodded with a kind smile on her face.
"StarClan has given you the ability to hide in your head when you feel too many emotions," Cheetahfur explained. "So, whenever you feel like you need to sort out your mind, you can retreat here."
"But what about the cats around me?" asked Rainpaw. "Will I just disappear?" Cheetahfur shook her head.
"No," she said. "You'll only fall asleep." Rainpaw smiled widely in wonder, his eyes searching his mind. Nothing was there, but for some reason, he felt safer. He felt like he was in a comfortable place where he could hide, a place he could go to whenever he wanted. He felt like he was home.
"Why is it so dark?" asked Rainpaw curiously. "Why is it covered in shadows and full of darkness?"
"This is your mind, young one," Cheetahfur replied. "Your mind is full of the things you love and cherish. It's full of what you put your trust and loyalty to. It's full of what you protect, your goals, and your failures."
"So I've got nothing?" asked Rainpaw. "I don't have anyone that I love or cherish? I don't have anyone that I have put my trust and loyalty into, no one to protect? I don't have any goals or any failures?" Cheetahfur shook her head again, making Rainpaw sigh with frustration.
"Oh you have failures, but you aren't looking for them." Cheetahfur explained. "The bad things, such as failures, stay away as long as you don't call for them. Sometimes you do accidentally, but that's not the point. You have no happiness in your life, you never did. All you cared about was your Twoleg brother. As I said before, however, you are learning the meaning of loyalty."
"What do you mean?" asked Rainpaw, curiously.
Cheetahfur laughed a bit, and then stood. "Follow me and you shall see what I mean." She then took off, making Rainpaw dart forward to try and catch up. Why, oh why, did cats have to be so fast?
Following Cheetahfur through the darkness just made Rainpaw depressed. Nothing was there. It was all just a foggy shadowy looking place, and to think that it was his mind.
A bright light caught his attention, making him slow down and look in front of him. It looked almost like ThunderClan's forest, but different somehow. It was night time—there were stars—yet everything seemed light. As he walked a little further, he could barely believe his eyes.
Robinpaw was the first thing he saw. She was laughing with Shadowpaw, her jade green eyes glittering beneath the stars. Shadowpaw just continued smiling, her sweet amber eyes like daisies in the spring. More cats were there, but they were blurred. Everything was, Rainpaw noticed as he took a closer look, even Robinpaw and Shadowpaw, just not as much as the others.
"Why is everything blurred?" asked Rainpaw curiously.
"You aren't completely loyal to them," Cheetahfur explained. "Until you are, this will always be a blur. The reason Robinpaw and Shadowpaw are clearer is because you are more loyal to those two cats individually. It will take you some time to learn the true meaning of loyalty, but you are heading in the right direction."
"So you're saying that I'm becoming more and more loyal to my Clan?" asked Rainpaw.
"Yes," Cheetahfur replied. "But remember, to live with the Clans, you have to be loyal to all of the Clans." Rainpaw tilted his head, confused. The Warrior Code said to be loyal to his Clan, not all of them. What was she talking about? Before he got to ask, however, she disappeared.
Then the view changed. He was no longer looking at Robinpaw and Shadowpaw in the forest, he was waking up. His eyes flickered open; his vision still blurred, and then he sat up. Scents of herbs filled his nose, letting him know that he was in the medicine cat den. His shoulder hurt, but he'd known that would happen, and his head was sore enough to call it a migraine.
"Finally awake?" asked a familiar voice. Rainpaw laughed a bit.
"Yeah but I wish I weren't," Rainpaw muttered. "My shoulder's killing me." Rainpaw then looked up to see Robinpaw looking at him with her pale green eyes. Her expression made him duck his head. She was angry, he could tell, but also afraid.
"Sorry about that," said Robinpaw then, her expression changing. She looked guilty, but why? "I didn't mean to hurt you like that." Rainpaw lifted his head higher and tilted it. He knew she'd knocked him out, but that was no reason to be guilty.
"What do you mean?" asked Rainpaw. "You didn't do anything at all. It was my fault I got into that situation and it was my fault that I didn't listen to you the first several times you warned me."
"You were actually listening?" Robinpaw asked. "I thought you were just ignoring me."
"I'd never do that," said Rainpaw, thinking it was obvious. "I wasn't me when I was fighting Sharpfang, Robinpaw. I—well—I don't know. . ." Rainpaw trailed off, unable to say anything without blowing the whole "I'm really a dead Human" secret. He knew what to say then.
"Do you remember when you told me that my eyes had grown darker?" asked Rainpaw. As Robinpaw nodded he sighed in relief. He didn't have to bring up the thought just yet. "Well, I think that was a sign for you and the others; a warning of some sort. I wasn't thinking clearly. As you saw, all I wanted to do was kill. That's not how I think—I swear on StarClan's name! I don't know what happened—maybe Sharpfang did something. I mean, he did bite my scar and all—"
"Rainpaw," Robinpaw interrupted. "I get it, you're not like that monster, before. Besides, the whole Clan knows that it's because Sharpfang bit your scar that you acted like that." Rainpaw's eyes narrowed in confusion.
"What do you mean?" asked Rainpaw. "How do they know?"
"You know how your scar is regularly black?" asked Robinpaw. Rainpaw nodded, still not believing this. "It wasn't when you acted like you were about to kill Sharpfang. It was—well—yellow. It was glowing. No one knew what was happening, and it turns out that I was the only one brave enough to stop you." Rainpaw shrugged.
"You were probably the only one that could." Rainpaw muttered, looking at his paws again. "I was so lost into my mind. . ."
"Good thing I did, otherwise we would have exiled you already," Robinpaw said then. "Everyone thinks that you're a bad omen now. Ravenstar and Yelloweye are doing their best to convince them their wrong, but it's not easy." Rainpaw sighed when he heard this, trying hard not to give up on this life and let them exile him. This was just too complicating, even for him.
"Did Snowdrift say I have to stay in?" asked Rainpaw. "I wouldn't blame him if I had to."
"Oh no, he said you're completely okay," said Robinpaw. "He's had three solid days to work on you, Rainpaw." Rainpaw's eyes widened.
"Three—three days?" said Rainpaw, shocked.
"Yes. You're wound is fine. You just slept so long, making us worry." Rainpaw nodded, stood up, and left. He heard Robinpaw do the same, following him out of the den.
As he left the medicine den, he felt everyone look at him. Rainpaw ignored them as he made his way over to the fresh-kill pile. Walking with a limp made him slow, but eventually he did get there. However, Snowstorm, one of the warriors, got in front of him before he even reached the fresh-kill pile. Rainpaw sighed in irritation—couldn't these cats tell that he wasn't even from StarClan? Couldn't they tell that he was better, that he didn't always think like that?
"No one who kills so freely like that will eat the food that we've caught," growled Snowstorm. "You threaten this Clan every second you're here, no matter how small you are." Robinpaw gave a low growl, though she didn't look mad.
"Snowstorm, he didn't mean what he did," said Robinpaw defensively. "Rainpaw is just a normal apprentice, so let him eat." Snowstorm shook his head and stood taller.
"If he's so hungry, he can hunt for himself," said Snowstorm with a look of disgust on his face. "He won't eat from this fresh-kill pile." Robinpaw hissed with frustration, her tail lashing with irritation.
"Rainpaw is still wounded; he can't hunt!" Robinpaw hissed. "Besides, Ravenstar said that he's staying and that he is not a threat, so why are you even bothering?" Snowstorm's tail was lashing now, trying to challenge Robinpaw.
"Ravenstar's decisions have to be brought up in a Clan meeting and voted on before they are absolute," said Snowstorm proudly. "He must wait for that day before he can eat from this fresh-kill pile." Robinpaw then growled, getting into a challenging position. Snowstorm did the same, but then Rainpaw stopped them.
"If I have to wait, then I will," said Rainpaw calmly. "No blood will be split over something so stupid. Just stop, okay?" Robinpaw rolled her eyes, but then stood and walked away. Rainpaw followed her with a limp, still ignoring the glares he was getting.
"I could have taken him on," Robinpaw hissed furiously. "He needed to be taught a lesson."
"Yeah, and to everyone else, so do I," Rainpaw pointed out. "Right now, I wouldn't blame them for thinking I'm a threat. I mean, look at me. I'm a loner, and I actually was going to kill him if you hadn't butted in. The star on my shoulder also tells them that I'm different, good or bad is what they can decide. The point is, if I was in their shoes—I mean paws, I'd think the same." A sharp pain shot into his head, but then disappeared. Something had changed within his mind, and at the end of the day, Rainpaw was going to check it. Right now, however, he was too focused on Ravenstar, who was walking onto the Highrock.
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather beneath the Highrock for a Clan Meeting." Said Ravenstar, his voice booming into every nook and cranny of the camp.
Rainpaw got in front and looked out to the Clan, gathering up his courage to talk to them if he had to. At this point, Rainpaw would do anything to stay in ThunderClan.
"I know most of you are wondering what I've decided to do about young Rainpaw here, but to be honest I haven't decided," Ravenstar started. "He may be small, but he's strong. He's an excellent fighter, a good enough hunter, but, as you all saw a few sunrises ago, he can kill. I honestly did not see this in him the first day I saw him—to be truthful, I am confused on what to do."
"Send him away!"
"He's a threat! He cannot be trusted!"
"Is he really a threat?" asked Ravenstar then, surprising Rainpaw a bit. Why was Ravenstar sticking up for him? Did Ravenstar know what had actually happened? "Or was that just something sudden that he was going through?"
"He's a killer!"
"Rainpaw?" asked Ravenstar, looking down to him. "What really happened?"
Rainpaw dipped his head respectively to Ravenstar, and then looked to the Clan. He'd made up the story, and he would use it. It was true, but it wasn't everything. It was the only thing he could think of that might convince them.
"When I decided to take the challenge Sharpfang had given me, I just wanted to let him know that I'm not as weak as he thought. I wanted him to have something real to compare to, not just the things he thought I was. So, when I fought Sharpfang, I knew there was no way that I'd actually win. He's two times bigger than I am and he's moons older, so how on earth could I win?" he began.
"At first it was how I expected to be," explained Rainpaw. "He was too fast for me, and far too strong. Within seconds he had me cornered, and so I had given up. I had no idea, however, that he was using unsheathed claws and teeth to win the fight. He bit the scar on my shoulder, doing something I'd only done once before. It was never this bad, though. I've never wanted to kill in my life. Then suddenly, my whole body was urging me to kill him. I didn't want to at first, so I argued. However, my mind got the better of me, finding the loopholes in my answers. After a while, it made sense to have to kill Sharpfang. I mean, he nearly killed me, so why not? He was a threat to me, and therefore a threat to the Clan. I don't think that, now, however, but I did three sunrises ago. I truly was going to kill him."
"Robinpaw, thankfully, was brave enough to stop me. Hearing her voice screwed up the thought process that was urging me to kill Sharpfang, making me confused. She asked what was wrong with me, and I thought that it was nothing. I mean, my head felt like it was on fire and my shoulder hurt, but I wasn't in danger of dying. Robinpaw then asked what I was doing, and I thought it was obvious: I was protecting my Clan by killing a threat. Then she started to pull me off, and I didn't want it. I wanted—no, needed—to kill this cat.
"Then she told me my eyes were darker. It had never done that before. It caught me off guard, and so I stopped for a little bit, though still tried to get away from her grip. Then she told me he did nothing wrong, and then I knew something was wrong with her. He did do something wrong according to my mind, he nearly killed me. He was a threat. After that, I didn't know what she was doing. She was hurting me, but it made no sense why. She was my friend, why was she doing this? Right before I fell, however, I returned to normal. I knew what I'd done was wrong, and I knew why Robinpaw was trying to stop me.
"I'm now afraid to think of what I looked like three sunrises ago, because when I was asleep in Snowdrift's den I was having dreams—well nightmares, really—about what I probably looked like. I'm not mad at any of you for thinking of me as a threat—I'd think the same. I probably am a threat if it's my scar that's the problem, but the solution to that is to just leave it alone. Think what you want; just remember that what happened three sunrises ago was something that doesn't happen regularly with me." It was quiet then, all of them trying to decide what to think. Sharpfang, he noticed, was at the back, looking at him with curiosity.
"So, ThunderClan," said Ravenstar. "What do you think of Rainpaw now?" A few cats murmured to each other, most of them stayed quiet, but still, a few didn't buy the story.
"He's a liar!"
"The story is not true! He's still a threat!"
Rainpaw sighed, and shook his head. These cats weren't going to learn, no matter how many explanations he gave. So, he was going to do something he probably should not do. He didn't care. He'd just made this his home so he was just going to have to live with it. Another sharp pain in his head warned him that his mind had changed again, but again he ignored it.
"If you think I'm lying, then so be it," said Rainpaw loudly. "If you want it to be this way, then it will be that way. I will make a deal with you, if that is what you want, and I will ensure you that I will not be a threat to your Clan." Everyone grew quiet then, every pair of eyes on him.
"You will let me stay here and continue training as usual. You will let me do everything a normal apprentice would do with the exception of not touching my scar." Rainpaw stopped, then, as some cats yowled in protest.
"You'll hurt my kits!"
"You'll kill someone!"
"You're a threat!"
"How is this a deal?"
"Be patient!" yowled Ravenstar, narrowing his eyes at his Clan. "He hasn't finished." Rainpaw dipped his head to Ravenstar again, and then continued.
"In return for letting me stay, I will give you the right to exile me if I do this again," said Rainpaw. "You will have the right to do anything to me, so long as you let me stay. So, in other words If I threaten your Clan again, you can exile me and I will leave as soon as I have my right mind again without any objection." Many whispers then went around, and as Rainpaw looked at Sharpfang, he found that the tom was now really curious.
"Rainpaw? What are you doing?" asked Shadowpaw, to Rainpaw's surprise. "Who knows when that'll happen again, and it might even be accidentally! You could be exiled for no reason at all!" Rainpaw ignored her and Robinpaw as well. He had to do this, he just had to.
"Does anyone think that this deal is not one they can commit to themselves?" Ravenstar asked, quieting down the crowd. No one spoke, so Ravenstar nodded. "Then Rainpaw will stay, but if this ever happens again, he will have to leave. This Clan meeting is over." Rainpaw then made his way over to the fresh-kill pile, his belly not forgetting to remind him that he was hungry.
Yes, in some part of his mind, he did regret making the deal with ThunderClan. However, it was the only thing that was going to let him stay, so he had to. His head was throbbing, reminding him to retreat to his mind, but he ignored it for now. He needed to hunt for the Clan, no matter how hard that was going to be. He was still a Clan cat, now; he was still supposed to support the Clan. It was his job. It was his life. It was his only hope.