Mudpaw shook with fear as the chaos around him finally started to become sorted. The first patrol going into WindClan was quite large, but there were also two apprentices. The RiverClan cats were all so confused, but Bravestar kept them in line.
“Wait, which patrol am I on?” a random tom asked.
“Third, no. . maybe it was second. . .” another cat answered.
“Mama I want to go!” squealed the familiar voice of Nightkit. “I am a good fighter! I could help them!”
“No, Nightkit,” murmured Reedfeather. “You must stay here.”
There were so many cats going in so many directions. Nothing could explain the number of colours of pelts or eyes or whiskers that passed Mudpaw, making him shake faster and faster with each cat that went by. It was just so confusing, and though he kept his siblings and family in mind, he wasn’t exactly thinking correctly.
“Blackpetal!” yelled a ShadowClan tom. “Rainfur—or at least I think it was him—has entered ThunderClan territory with his patrol. We must leave immediately if we are to be on time!”
Blackpetal, the leader of the patrol, suddenly yowled loudly to get her patrol’s attention. The cats on the patrol went quiet, leaving her to nod silently to herself before taking off out of camp, the others murmuring but running after her. Mudpaw barely kept up, but he managed.
The cats around him shared grave faces, probably accepting the fact that this might be the last time they see this side of the forest. Mudpaw shivered as he thought of what might happen if he didn’t make it back. Tigerpaw wouldn’t be that sad probably, but Dawnstripe-his mother-and Rosepaw would be bawling. He could just picture them crying over his dead body, giving their last good-byes.
Mudpaw ran as fast as he could with the patrol heading into WindClan territory. His heart was beating quickly as he felt the feeling of battle beneath his paws. Mudpaw wasn’t really happy at all, because even though he wanted to save Robinwing like he’d promised, he was scared. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want to fight. He didn’t know how.
Mudpaw gave a surprised squeak as he felt the squishy moor beneath his paws. He hadn’t felt anything like this before, and with everything going on, his body was becoming exhausted and overwhelmed rapidly. His eyes franticly looked around, trying to find any sign of WindClan cats.
An older apprentice whose name Mudpaw learned was Smokepaw, ran beside him with a determined look in the young tom’s eyes. How could this apprentice be so determined? How could he be so fearless while Mudpaw was literally shaking his way toward WindClan’s camp?
Mudpaw suddenly tripped, tumbling backward as he watched the patrol speed off without him. Mudpaw’s head lowered as he stood but he didn’t continue to follow the cats. He couldn’t. Mudpaw was clueless when it came to fighting, and he was too scared. How did he even expect to become a Warrior?
Mudpaw looked to the soft ground, small white tears finding their way down his cheeks. He was shaking, crying, and scared. This was not how he thought being an apprentice would be like. This was not what he had in mind. He thought it would mean respect and fame, but no cat or even kit was even caring that he’d fallen behind.
Tigerpaw was probably fighting perfectly, taking down a strong Warrior that was moons older than he was. Rosepaw was probably outsmarting everybody, sprinting around them as they tried to hook their claws through her small ginger body. But he, poor little Mudpaw, was crying in the middle of enemy territory, awaiting his pathetic death of sadness and depression.
“Mudpaw, why have you stopped?” a curious voice asked. “We need to keep going.” Mudpaw didn’t look up, but he could already tell the tom was Smokepaw of RiverClan. Mudpaw sighed. Smokepaw was probably just going to laugh at him if he responded.
“Come on, we need to go,” Smokepaw urged, nudging Mudpaw a bit. The small brown apprentice didn’t move.
“No.” Mudpaw hissed loudly. “I’m not going.” Smokepaw sat by him then, his warm fur stopping Mudpaw’s shivering.
“Well why not?” asked Smokepaw, his voice warm and soothing.
“I’m too scared,” Mudpaw hissed irritably. “I’d rather die here than by a Warrior. I don’t deserve to be thought of as a scary apprentice. I don’t even know how to fight.” Smokepaw was quiet for a few moments before sighing.
“I heard from the other Warriors that Rainfur himself asked that you become an apprentice,” Smokepaw murmured quietly. “Is this true?” Mudpaw nodded weakly, having no idea what Smokepaw was trying to say.
“That’s a big achievement, you know,” Smokepaw said. “Rainfur is one of the strongest cats in this forest, and to have him tell your leader to make you an apprentice is a huge deal.” Mudpaw looked up to the silver apprentice, tilting his head lightly with curiosity.
“Really?” Mudpaw asked, his confidence growing a bit.
“Oh yeah,” Smokepaw continued, smiling warmly. “I remember when I first met him. We were naming the kits he’d saved moons ago. He was such a strong cat, and I knew that from that day on that I wanted to fight beside him.” Mudpaw was now really confused.
“Aren’t you sad that you can’t now that you’ve been assigned to one of the WindClan patrols?” asked Mudpaw curiosity. Smokepaw shrugged, his careless looking expression confusing Mudpaw even more.
“It’s just not my time,” Smokepaw murmured. “Anyway, you’re lucky to be an apprentice right now, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be here. You have a job, remember? You need to save Robinwing with me. That way when Rainfur returns from battle we can both accept his praise together.” Mudpaw nodded, his eyes widening with excitement as Smokepaw pointed out his reason to fight.
“That’s right,” Mudpaw said, excitement burning in his eyes. “I wanted to become an apprentice because I wanted to save Robinwing for Rainfur.” The small apprentice jumped to his feet and stood proudly in front of Smokepaw. “Smokepaw, I’ll make sure that you get to meet Rainfur again by helping you escort Robinwing back to her mate.” Smokepaw smiled before chuckling.
“Well we better hurry then,” said Smokepaw. “At this rate, the patrol will already have saved her.” Mudpaw nodded before sprinting off, Smokepaw running beside him. Now he knew what he was fighting for. Now he knew what he had to do. The fear no longer came to him because now he knew that no matter what happened, he was going to be bring back Robinwing, alive.
Jactur screeched loudly as he ran into ThunderClan’s camp. The cats behind him joined in, finding a cat to battle with. Most of ThunderClan, however, didn’t resist their invasion. They helped.
Jactur immediately took on a black tom, the fury in his belly growing as he remembered exactly who his enemy was. He killed the tom quickly by slitting his throat, not even caring if the cat was a fellow ThunderClan. He dismissed the fact that the tom also might have been a cat Rainfur might have wanted alive. Jactur didn’t care, though. Rainey wasn’t here to control his emotions, so he was too enraged to notice such things.
The war around Jactur was hectic. Everyone was fighting, some were hiding, and most were screaming. Whether that be in agony, triumph, fear or determination was for them to decide. It was so chilling, and the feeling of anger was the only thing Jactur could make of it.
His eyes scanned the camp for Sharpstar. The demon was bound to show up sometime, probably thinking he had it easy because he was under the impression that Rainfur led the patrol into the invasion. Now he’ll get the surprise of his life, Jactur thought. I would love to read his final thought. Oh how I can’t wait.
Jactur suddenly heard movement behind him. He turned on his hind legs before unsheathing his claws and slashing a large gash on the tom’s face. It was after the tom backed away that Jactur found it was Tigerpelt. He grinned wickedly as he thought of how much he could do to the tom who hurt Rainfur.
“Finally come out to play, Rainfur?” asked a cold voice that made Jactur’s fury boil. “I was beginning to think that you were just going to let your Clan die off.” Jactur turned, his tail lashing with anger as he faced his enemy. His eyes narrowed as he remembered exactly what he was there for. Jactur growled loudly as he faced the large form of Sharpstar.
“Oh? So you think that your little trick will scare me?” asked Sharpstar, his eyes showing no fear. “I have nine lives, Rainfur. You are the least of my worries.” Jactur hissed again, lunging forward with his long claws unsheathed, ready to scrape their way to blood.
Sharpstar’s eyes widened a bit as he evaded the attack, a spot of his fur gone as Jactur landed on the ground. His dark blue eyes were narrowed tightly as he turned to face Sharpstar again. Jactur smiled as he saw the bit of fear in the evil leader’s eyes. He fed on it, letting his anger and excitement get the best of him.
“You’ve gotten stronger, Rainfur,” Sharpstar murmured. “I’m—”
“I am not Rainfur, you idiot,” Jactur growled, positioning himself so that he could lunge of Sharpstar showed any signs of attacking. “I’m Jactur, mouse-brain. Think it’s a trick now? No, you don’t. I can see the fear in your eyes.” Sharpstar’s whiskers flicked, the fear growing a bit.
“I fear no one,” Sharpstar growled, his evil eyes gleaming as he smirked. Jactur hissed with anger as the fear vanished from Sharpstar’s eyes. “I don’t fear one who has the largest weakness in history.” Jactur hissed again before lunging. Sharpstar dodged the attack again, that annoying smirk still plastered on his face.
“Are you talking about the weakness StarClan told you about?” Jactur hissed. Sharpstar chuckled a bit, enjoying his opponent’s discomfort.
“Why of course,” Sharpstar sneered. “Oh how innocent they thought I was. Now I shall use that information they gave me. I shall kill you, and therefore kill Rainfur. Isn’t my plan well thought out?” Jactur yowled in fury before jumping in Sharpstar’s direction. In a quick movement, Jactur had dug his claws into the horrible leader’s skin.
“That information wasn’t yours to know!” Jactur spat, his fur bristling as he bared his teeth at Sharpstar. “And to think you became leader because of that knowledge!” Sharpstar narrowed his eyes, finally getting serious as he realised his competition.
“StarClan are nothing but fools,” Sharpstar hissed. “Weren’t we taught when we were younger that they could see everything? Didn’t they say that for every lie we spoke, StarClan would remember? And yet, they couldn’t even see my true intentions. They just idiotically let me became the leader of ThunderClan.” Jactur smirked at this.
“There are two things wrong with what you just said,” Jactur muttered. “One, I wasn’t here when Rainfur was taught this and two, we both believe in things like God, not StarClan. Sorry mouse-brain, but Rainfur isn’t exactly your typical Clan cat.” Sharpstar’s tail lashed with anger before he lunged toward Jactur, who just smirked again as he evaded the attack.
“Besides, aren’t you scared of losing your Clan?” asked Jactur. “You do realize that WindClan is also being attacked at this time, and that Robinwing is in labour?” Sharpstar hissed, his amber eyes narrowing tightly as Jactur’s crazy smirk widened.
“Rainfur chose this invasion because of that, didn’t he?” Sharpstar growled. “Fox-dung! I should have been smarter than that!” Sharpstar lunged again, but Jactur just leaped elegantly out of the way. When he landed, he faced Sharpstar with proud eyes.
“Yep, and Sharpstar, there’s one more thing I want to ask you,” Jactur said, the insanity within him flaring. The tabby tom whipped around to face Jactur, his amber eyes showing irritation and frustration. Oh how Jactur loved annoying his enemies.
“What?” Sharpstar asked, his voice ringing throughout the Clan’s camp. Jactur just jumped from his spot and landed on top of the idiotic leader. He sank his teeth in the back of Sharpstar’s neck, making him yowl with agony. Jactur hissed with delight as he avoided Sharpstar’s claws and leaped off of the large leader.
“Can you tell me what you thought when you found out your mother was helping your enemy?” asked Jactur, making Sharpstar hiss with anger. Jactur continued smirking, trying to find more and more ways to torture Sharpstar mentally.
“That’s none of your concern!” Sharpstar hissed.
“Now you know how it feels,” Jactur snapped back, scowling at the leader in front of him. “You stole something that only Rainfur and I were supposed to know about. Anyways, I didn’t hear your answer. How did it feel when everyone looked down upon you? When they all thought that you were the son of a rogue who had no business knowing the Warrior code?” Sharpstar hissed, his eyes showing his confusion. Jactur could see the anger and frustration. These were memories that Sharpstar didn’t want brought up again. Excellent.
“No!” Sharpstar screamed.
“Oh yes,” Jactur growled. “You remember. They all thought it was your fault. It was your fault that Ravenstar existed. It was your fault that your mother betrayed them. It was your fault Sandstar let Ravenstar into ThunderClan. It was your fault that your mother fought the fox. It was your fault that she died.” Sharpstar attacked with his claws flailing in mid-air, trying to scratch Jactur again.
“You don’t know the half of it!” Sharpstar hissed. “You will die for those words, Jactur. You and your partner will die for your murders, and I will rule these Clans. I will show them who the real Warrior is. I will show them that it was their fault for sticking their noses up when they looked at me. It was their fault!” As Sharpstar lunged, Jactur smirked.
The game has begun.
Rainfur bit his tongue as teeth entered the side of his neck, daring himself to scream as the cat above him powerfully pinned him down. His unsheathed claws mercilessly tried to find skin to scratch, but it was exhausting to even try to move. The tom on top of him was just too strong.
Finally, the teeth in his neck retracted, and the tom on top of him licked his lips as his ghost-like eyes stared into the fearful eyes of Rainfur. The power within him no longer helped against this spirit cat. In fact, how he was fighting right now, he figured that since Jactur wasn’t here, he wasn’t even fighting to his full strength. Not that he could if he wanted to.
“So wonderful. . .” the cat on him murmured. “So delicious. . .oh how I love it. . .The justice. . .” Rainfur hissed lowly, his eyes showing his panic. What if he died? Jactur would be alone. That couldn’t happen. Not when he was fighting Sharpstar. What if this—this thing—took over Stormpaw? The whole forest would be as good as dead. What if he was stuck in Stormpaw’s head? Jactur would never forgive him. This couldn’t be happening!
“You want to fight. . .do you?” asked the brown and white tom. “Oh yes. . .I see your soul. . .You want to win. . .You want to kill me. . .” Rainfur narrowed his eyes, the blue orbs looking straight into the cold starry eyes above him.
“I don’t kill anymore,” Rainfur growled, showing his teeth to the smaller cat. “I just want you to see sense. I want you to receive a name. I want you to become tame like Jactur.” The cat above him just grinned, and something told Rainfur that he did not want to hear what was coming.
“Little pawn. . .” said the tom absently. “I do not need a name. . .no, no. . .I already have. . .one. I don’t need. . .your little brother. . .to name me. . .I have. . .named. . .myself.” Rainfur hissed, struggling even harder as he thought of Stormpaw. This is for him. This is for him. This is for him, Rainfur repeated in his head.
“Impossible!” Rainfur yowled. “You cannot have a name! You wouldn’t be similar to Jactur of you had a name!” The tom just shook his head, as if trying to ignore a small kit.
“Oh but I do,” the cat muttered. “The name you will now fear. . . .The name you will remember. . .in your last dying breath. . .My name is. . .Matar. . .”
Matar. . .to kill. . . Rainfur thought, closing his eyes as he tried to calmed himself, though he still remained scowling. Now what? He couldn’t make this cat see sense if he didn’t even know how he would be able to get along with Stormpaw. It was impossible. So what now?
“What do I have do to get you to accept Stormpaw as your partner?” Rainfur murmured, no longer struggling as Matar stood upon him. The brown and white tom tilted his head in confusion, as if he didn’t understand what Rainfur had just said. As if he’d said it in a different language.
For a few moments, the tom just stared into Rainfur’s eyes. It was as if he’d brought up a meaningful memory, one that made Matar think. At first Rainfur thought this was a bad thing, but as Matar stepped off of him, he found it was probably a good thing.
The brown and white tom walked toward the memories playing around them, staring at nothing in particular. His eyes were clouded with emotion, and Rainfur suddenly felt sorry for the tom. He was curious, however, of what Matar was thinking of. Maybe the moment he was created, Rainfur thought. But when was that?
Rainfur tried to get up, but unfortunately, an invincible force kept him down. He sighed in frustration, but still struggled. The force kept getting tighter and tighter, so eventually he stopped. All the while, Matar kept quiet, watching the scenes around him.
In pure curiosity, Rainfur looked closer to the memories being played. The first one that caught his attention was the first time Jactur took over. The time when Rainfur realised his scar meant something. The memory was fuzzy, as if there was a bad connection. There might have been for all Rainfur knew. Jactur and Stormpaw could have been separated, so the memories weren’t being easily found.
The next memory Rainfur saw were the rogues. They were angry, but fearful. It was one of the first times he saw them, when Snowstorm was killed. It was so strange seeing himself so defenceless. So scared. So angry. So different. It made him wonder what all had happened since then.
Another memory came to view and that one was another of Sharpstar. It was when he became Rainfur’s mentor, and though he hadn’t caught it before, Rainfur could now see the anger in his mentor’s eyes. Sharpstar must have really been frustrated to have Rainfur as his apprentice.
More and more came, and each one of them were of Rainfur’s enemies. The Fire Stars. Sharpstar. Shadow. The rogues. Sharpstar. The loners in the city. Carlisle at one point. The list went on and on. It was all so strange, but Rainfur knew these memories were picked for a reason.
“Many want you dead. . .oh yes. . .many. . .” Matar said then. “None of them have succeeded. . .No. . .” Rainfur narrowed his eyes in confusion. Matar wanted to see who wanted him dead? But why? What did that tell the stupid tom? What did that gain him?
Suddenly the memories changed their theme. At the moment, Rainfur was watching himself when he was human, fighting after a few bullies had tried to pick on him. It was when he was twelve, but age didn’t matter. He fought back and at first Rainfur wondered why. When he was younger, he didn’t really fight anybody. He just let them beat him up.
Now, however, he was seriously injuring the teenager bullies. There were small specks of blood on him, but none of it was his. The anger in his blue eyes meant that he was definitely fighting for something that he really wanted, but what? Rainfur searched for the reason, and at the end of the memory, he found it. In the corner of the ally where the fight took place, a small shocked boy sat with a frightened expression. The boy was unmistakably Daniel.
The next memory was of his fight with Sharpstar again. The one that was supposed to be training, but ended up being real. Rainfur had to force himself to watch as Jactur’s insanity took over. He forced himself to watch the fear in everyone’s eyes. The memory finally stopped when Robinwing asked what had really happened to him.
The next time he fought was with the rogues again, when he first met Shadow. The memory was too fast for Rainfur to follow. It was as if it was a TV screen in fast forward, leaving everything blurred. Matar, however, seemed to follow it effortlessly.
More and more memories passed, all of them of his endless battles. With the rogues, with the loners in the city, with Sharpstar, with Shadow, with the leaders, with Rosestar, and anyone else he’d come across. Remembering his fights made him remember how much Matar must have hated him. Of why Matar must want to kill him.
“You are strong. . .I have seen this. . .but that wasn’t my full power. . .” Matar murmured, not even looking back to face Rainfur. “I wonder. . .if you fought me. . .if you could win. . .?” Rainfur’s eyes widened. Fight the power without his own? That was impossible! Without Jactur he was just a normal cat! Jactur was the only reason he was alive!
Matar turned around and looked to Rainfur with his ghost-like eyes. There was silence as Rainfur’s body instinctively tensed with anticipation that a battle was near. Matar, however, didn’t look as if he was going to attack. Instead, the brown and white tom looked as if he was deciding something.
“To answer your. . .question. . .I am more developed and mature. . .than Jactur. . .” Matar murmured. “I don’t need trust. . .No, no. . .I need justice. . .However. . .I am curious. . .Your fighting skills are. . .interesting. . .and I am wondering. . .if they are different. . .without. . .Jactur.” Rainfur narrowed his eyes in confusion, though when he went through what Matar said a few times, he understood.
“So you want me to fight you?” he asked, though he was pretty sure that he knew the answer. Matar nodded, confirming what Rainfur thought. Well this would just be brilliant. He was going to die in his brother’s mind. Matar just looked at him.
“If you die. . .you won’t return. . .to Jactur,” Matar murmured. “But if you live. . .succeed to weaken me. . .and show me your. . .determination. . .I will get my justice. . .and then your brother. . .shall become partners. . .with me. Is it a deal. . .?” Rainfur looked into the ghost-like eyes of his opponent, trying to decide.
If he chose to fight, he would probably end up dying, in which case he’d be leaving Sharpstar up to Jactur and basically giving Stormpaw to Matar. What a wonderful way to die: knowing you failed entirely, and that everyone will hate you later.
However, if Rainfur refused, Matar would probably kill him. Instantly, probably. So I honestly don’t have a choice, Rainfur thought. Fun.
“I’ll fight you,” Rainfur murmured. “For Stormpaw’s sake at least.” Matar didn’t smirk or grin or laugh demonically like Jactur would have done. Instead, he remained staring absently at Rainfur, as if returning to the ghost he really was.
The pressure holding Rainfur down finally vanished, leaving him to sigh with relief. The pressure had kept his breathing down to a minimum, and now he could move. Feeling trapped like that wasn’t very reassuring in Rainfur’s mind.
Rainfur stood up, his claws unsheathing quickly as he saw that Matar was already in a fighting position. The brown and white tom just merely stared at him, and as they silently waited for the other to attack, Rainfur could see the pleasure in Matar’s ghost-like eyes. The tom was clearly enjoying this.
Let’s see how much he’ll enjoy this when he loses, Rainfur thought before lunging.