Mudpaw sprinted into WindClan camp, and though there was no visible determination in his expression through the eyes of any other cat around him, the only thing on his mind was to save Robinwing. It was the reason he was not afraid of the war around him, and it was the only way he was able to block everything out.
Smokepaw was beside him as they entered WindClan’s camp, ignoring the screeches and screams coming from the battling cats. Mudpaw came to a comeplete stop as he stood in WindClan’s camp, his eyes wide as he realised just how crazy the world around him was.
Cats were fighting relentlessly as blood splattered into the ground. Screeches of fury rang in Mudpaw’s ears, and yowls of triumph were heard most often. Cries of agony nearly made Mudpaw run away, but when he heard Smokepaw’s yowl of determination, he remembered once again what he was here for.
Mudpaw used his small body to manoeuvre around and sometimes through the battles that went on around him. Smokepaw seemed to know where the nursery was, and so Mudpaw followed the elder apprentice. He took a sniff and found that Smokepaw was actually going in the right direction.
When they entered the nursery, Mudpaw shocked as he saw how many cats were guarding Robinwing, who seemed as if she were dying. His eyes widened as he figured out that all of the cats within the den were either queens or RiverClan cats, and all of them were in a protective position.
“Why aren’t we moving?” asked Smokepaw, his eyes narrowed with confusion. “Why aren’t we leaving for RiverClan territory?” Robinwing gave a loud scream just as Smokepaw finished, making Mudpaw gasp again. He was starting to shake as the fear of losing Robinwing overwhelmed him.
“The kits aren’t coming out easily,” an elder queen explained. “They’re too big for this to go normally, and moving Robinwing would just make things worse. She’ll need to have the kits before we leave.” Mudpaw’s heart immediately began to beat faster. Why was this happening now? Rainfur would be furious if he returned without his mate with him!
“We’re all protecting her, so don’t worry,” a RiverClan tom soothed. “We just need to wait patiently. Since you aren’t needed, it would probably be best if go out and fight like real Warriors.” Mudpaw shook his head, standing tall as the other Warriors stared at him.
“I am helping Robinwing if it’s the last thing I do,” Mudpaw growled. “I can’t fight anyways. I’ll be better off here.” Smokepaw nodded, agreeing with him.
“We’ve got enough Warriors helping us out there,” Smokepaw said. “Most of the WindClan cats have seemed to join us. Rosestar is outnumbered, but be prepared. If what I heard about Rosestar is true, she’ll be over here to try and kill Robinwing’s kits herself.”
“She’s only got one life anyway,” said the RiverClan tom with certainty in his voice. “We’ll be able to deal with her.” Smokepaw nodded before looking to Mudpaw, his blue eyes showing his determination. Mudpaw looked up to the elder apprentice, beaming with admiration.
“I’m gonna try to injure some of the mouse-brains out there,” said Smokepaw quietly. “I’m mostly gonna see if I can spy on Rosestar, so don’t worry.” With a small smile, Smokepaw was gone, disappearing into the mass of cats out in the camp.
Mudpaw silently hoped that Smokepaw would be okay when he returned. The tom was more like a mentor now. An inspiration to Mudpaw more than anything, and with that inspiration, he wanted to help Smokepaw too. Someday Mudpaw knew that he would repay Smokepaw.
“Okay, so Robinwing, just push, and soon they’ll all be out,” an elderly queen soothed as Robinwing panted heavily.
“Mudpaw, get over here so I can see—”
“See what?” hissed a familiar voice. “Your cats failing at killing me and my Clan?” Mudpaw turned to face the golden she-cat within the nursery entrance, widening his eyes as he saw who it was. He backed up until he reached the RiverClan tom who looked much stronger.
It was Rosestar.
The golden leader had narrowed eyes as she stood in the nursery. Her ears were pinned back to her head as her lips drew back in a snarl. Her teeth were bared and her tail was lashing. Mudpaw knew from all of these signs that Rosestar was angry, but also afraid.
“Did you mouse-brains honestly think that you could keep Robinwing’s condition from me?” Rosestar hissed. “And are you that stupid to even think that sending a spy on me would help?” Mudpaw’s eyes widened as WindClan Warriors showed up beside her, pinning down Smokepaw as the RiverClan apprentice tried to free himself.
How did Rosestar find out that fast? How did she catch him so fast? How did she know? Mudpaw froze in his place, becoming very afraid as Rosestar towered over him. The fear was overwhelming, but as he looked into Smokepaw’s pleading eyes, he realised something. Mudpaw realised that he needed to be strong for Smokepaw, and he needed to do something that would help him.
“Let Smokepaw go!” Mudpaw demanded, narrowing his eyes in anger as Smokepaw’s eyes grew with surprise. “He wasn’t spying! He was just fighting!” Rosestar hissed, making Mudpaw flinch with fright.
“I saw this apprentice sneaking around like a mouse in leaf-bare!” Rosestar growled loudly. “So no, I will not let him go. He will die sooner or later, but first I must kill Robinwing. I’ve waited long enough to kill those kits, and if they aren’t coming out and Sharpstar won’t kill them, I will. Now get out of my way!” Mudpaw narrowed his eyes tighter before standing up straighter. He was challenging a leader.
“No.” said Mudpaw firmly. Rosestar gaped at him, as did Stormpaw and the three other WindClan Warriors.
“What did you say?” asked Rosestar in disbelief. Mudpaw’s tail lashed side to side, his anger rising. She wasn’t letting Smokepaw go, and that wasn’t making Mudpaw any happier.
“I said no,” said Mudpaw. “I will not get out of the way. I made a promise to Rainfur and I plan to uphold it. I’m not willing to break my promise to Rainfur, just because of a mangy old flea-bag with only one life. .” Rosestar’s eyes widened with both anger and shock. A mere apprentice was challenging her. She stared for a few moments, unable to believe what Mudpaw had just said.
“If you do not plan to move, then I will move you by force!” Rosestar screeched, getting into a fighting position. Mudpaw mimicked her, his eyes narrowed in determination. Rosestar was not going to kill Smokepaw. Rosestar was not going to hurt anyone. Even if it was the last thing he did, he was going to pay back Smokepaw and save Robinwing.
Mudpaw closed his eyes as Rosestar lunged, but as he awaited his death, nothing came. Instead he felt someone fly over him, and then heard a sickening crack as the two cats crashed together. Soon Mudpaw heard them fall to the ground, and as he opened his eyes, he saw Rosestar stand and back up in fear.
Then he saw it. A pale grey tom stood in front of him, glaring at Rosestar with authority that meant only one thing. This cat was a leader. Mudpaw knew that also because he recognized the cat. The tom before him wasn’t ordinary. The cat before him was Bravestar.
“Attacking apprentices isn’t going to get you anywhere in life, Rosestar,” Bravestar murmured. “He’s only trying to protect his friends.” Rosestar recovered quickly from the surprise. She returned to her furious position, but this time she seemed a bit. . .crazier.
“As if I care,” Rosestar growled. “Friends mean nothing to me. I only want those kits dead. I want them annihilated from this forest. They belong in the Dark Forest, where their father shall go tonight.” Bravestar’s whiskers twitched, but he didn’t get angry. Instead, he just stood there.
“Rosestar, I will only ask you once,” Bravestar whispered. “Are you willing to return to a caring leader like you once were, or are you going to force me to kill you?” Rosestar hesitated, as if unsure what to say, but then she growled and lashed her tail back and forth.
“I will not rest until those kits are dead,” Rosestar hissed. Bravestar nodded in respect before lunging, making Mudpaw gasp with fear. Rosestar was sure to lose—Bravestar had more lives than she did—but why did they have to fight to prove that?
Mudpaw watched as the two leaders fought, noticing absently that Smokepaw had been released. He had stood up to Rosestar, but he had never intended on fighting her. And Bravestar. . .he had protected Mudpaw. He wasn’t even a RiverClan apprentice, and still, the leader protected him.
But why? Mudpaw wondered.
Sharpstar lunged for Jactur but he had already jumped out of the way. The sly grey and white cat turned to face Sharpstar, but the furious leader was already gone. Jactur looked up and found Sharpstar above him, making him growl with irritation.
In one swift movement, Jactur slid away, leaving Sharpstar to land on his paws without his prey in his claws. Smirking as always, Jactur leaped toward the mouse-brain, his claws unsheathed and ready to slit the tom’s throat. Sharpstar moved himself out of the way before slashing his claws through some of Jactur’s fur.
The idiotic leader growled in frustration as he realised that he hadn’t drawn any blood, making Jactur frown. If things were already that close, then Jactur was done for, and that was not an option. Not when Rainfur was still fighting Stormpaw’s power. Not when things were so close to begin with.
Sharpstar attacked again, making Jactur hiss as he jumped away. At this rate he would tire before Sharpstar, for his endurance wasn’t the best. Not to mention the fact that his body wasn’t used to being so distant from Rainfur’s mind. Something else was happening. Something bad.
“What’s the matter demon?” asked Sharpstar, smirking with his furious amber eyes shining. “Feeling exhausted?” Jactur hissed, his ears pinned to his head as his tail lashed from side to side.
“In your dreams, mouse-brain,” Jactur growled, his narrowed as he lunged toward Sharpstar. The tabby tom just knelt down and rolled out of the way, standing up as soon as Jactur had jumped over him. In a wave of fury, he turned to face Sharpstar, his dark blue eyes clawing at the smirk on the leader’s face.
Jactur suddenly gasped as he felt his breath knocked out of him. His eyes widened, knowing that whatever was making him gasp for breath was not an outside threat. It was Rainfur. Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.
Jactur hardly noticed Sharpstar’s movements. He was too busy trying to regain his vision as the black clouds rolled in, making him blind. What situation in StarClan’s name was Rainfur into now? What on earth was happening? As he finally got a hold of his breath, he realised what must have happened.
Rainfur was now fighting seriously.
Suddenly, in the darkness he saw, a watery wall appeared and in front of it was Sharpstar. He lunged for the wall, but then bounced back as the defence kicked in. Jactur smirked when his vision returned to normal. He quickly stood up, facing Sharpstar as the tabby’s eyes widened.
“You didn’t honestly think that I’d leave our mind unprotected once I knew what you could do, did you?” Jactur asked, his smirk irritating Sharpstar further. “Mouse-brain! You’ll never be able to break through my mind!” An insane look returned to Jactur’s face as he stared at the stupid leader.
I was distracted, and if Sharpstar had known about the wall I built, he could have killed me instantly, Jactur thought to himself, his deep blue eyes not moving from the flame coloured orbs that came from Sharpstar. So that means all I need to do is distract him. How though? Sharpstar has nothing but anger to go on, so he won’t be distracted easily. But. . .His memories. I need to either trigger them, or go in and get them myself.
Sharpstar attacked, a bit of fear in his eyes as he realised that Jactur was planning something. Teeth nearly reached Jactur’s neck as Sharpstar pinned him down, but he kicked the tabby leader off him just in time. Jactur stood up as fast as he could, fast enough to see Sharpstar claw at the ground in irritation.
Triggering them would take more time than I have, so I’ll have to try and retrieve them myself, Jactur thought. However, with the knowledge he has, I bet that he’ll have a wall as well. . . Jactur looked straight into Sharpstar’s eyes and went into his mind, searching of memories that included Cheetahfur. But instead of finding the memories, he found crimson red brick wall. Jactur hissed in frustration before retreating back to reality and evading Sharpstar’s attack.
Well, scratch out that plan, Jactur thought. Wait. My wall was made of rain, and his was brick. Brick eventually breaks, but rain . .now that will never fade, and if it’s strong enough, it will repel—or drown—anything that tries to break through. This would mean that I can break through Sharpstar’s barrier before he can do the same to mine.
Sharpstar lunged again, noticing once again that Jactur was planning something. His claws slashed toward Jactur’s shoulder, but the quick cat just stepped out of the way and jumped over Sharpstar. This fight was going to pretty much be even if it hadn’t been for the mind tricks.
So once I break the wall, I’ll distract Sharpstar, and then take all of his lives at once, Jactur thought, smirking as he finally figured out a plan. He locked eyes with Sharpstar again, this time attacking the brick wall. It made him bounce back, but Jactur could tell that he made a few bricks crack. Now all he needed to do was make the crack grow and soon it would fall.
“You think you’ve figured it out, do you?” hissed Sharpstar’s cold voice. “Mouse-brain. You’ve just shown me how to get past your mind.” Jactur hissed in frustration as Sharpstar bounced back into his mind, attacking his wall. However, there were no cracks. It just made Sharpstar fall backwards out of Jactur’s mind. Sharpstar’s eyes narrowed with confusion as Jactur smirked.
“The defence in my mind was built years ago by Rainfur, mouse-brain,” Jactur hissed. “Yours was just created a few moons ago. It’ll take you a few moons of fighting like this to make the rain stop, but your mind seems much easier. If I were you, I’d work harder on fighting me than reaching my mind.” Sharpstar’s eyes flashed with anger before he lunged. Jactur just continued smirking as he evaded the attack.
I bet I’m in a better fight than you are, Rainey, Jactur thought. And as he saw Sharpstar attack again, he could almost hear Rainfur’s voice call back to him:
Rainfur narrowed his eyes with frustration as Matar pushed him to the ground. The brown and white tom just stared absently at him as his strong legs kept Rainfur down. Matar’s ghostly eyes never blinked as he raised his paw, ready to slit Rainfur’s throat. The grey and white tom pushed himself up and bit the paw as hard as he could.
Matar growled lowly as he felt the pain from Rainfur’s teeth, but didn’t have time to pull it away from his grasp as Rainfur pulled Matar off him. His body instinctively stood up as the cat who resembled his brother lay there on the ground with a bloody paw.
Rainfur leaped toward the big tom, but before he could injure Mater again, the brown and white cat had gotten up and sprinted under him. Then, in one quick moment, Rainfur felt claws rake down his belly as he continued to be in the air. He fell a few seconds later, rolling across the black floor.
Matar can’t be that fast, Rainfur thought as he stood up. I was only in the air for what—two seconds? And yet he managed to rake his claws down my belly. If he’s that fast, I’m done for. Darn it! How did I ever fight without Jactur at my side?
Dark crimson blood dropped onto the floor from Rainfur’s stomach. His limbs were tiring, and if he lost too much blood he would be too weak to survive. Matar would kill him for sure, and then Jactur would be forced to fight Sharpstar alone. StarClan this couldn’t be happening.
“You are so puny. . .” Matar murmured. “So vulnerable. . .It seems. . .I was wrong. . .You are worthless without Jactur. . .useless. . .” Rainfur’s eyes narrowed in anger, but he couldn’t keep himself from agreeing with Matar. If he couldn’t fight without Jactur, exactly how was he worth anything?
Rainfur attacked, remembering that now was not the time to think of those kinds of things. His claws unsheathed and his teeth were bared, ready to clamp down on some skin as he made his way toward Matar. His dark blue eyes were locked on his target, determined not to make the same mistake he did last time.
Just as Rainfur was about to land on Matar, however, something happened. Something in his mind was fighting off an intruder, and they were fighting hard. Rainfur fell as his vision faded, and he didn’t get up. Sharpstar was doing something to Jactur, but what? Was Jactur loosing? Did that mean Rainfur would be stuck in here forever?
Rainfur suddenly felt something on him, restraining his whole body so that he couldn’t move a muscle. His vision returned as he felt this, but a headache had started. Even though Rainfur could see Matar on top of him, it was blurry. He could hardly see anything because of the huge headache he now had, and he couldn’t think straight.
I need to fight! I need to fight! Rainfur repeated in his head, struggling with all of his strength. Nothing moved, though, and as Matar prepared to slit his throat again, Rainfur stopped. There was no point in wasting his energy when he was just going to die anyway. Instead, he tried to plan something.
How did I do it back then? Back when Jactur didn’t have a name? Rainfur thought, quickly trying to figure it out. All that happened was I went insane, but how do I do that here? How? What made me insane? Well, Alfie’s death did, but I can’t remember that now. I mean, I know it happened, but bringing up the memory again is impossible now that I’ve given Jactur a name. . .
Rainfur suddenly remembered that he was close to death. He made his body move ever so slightly, leaving Matar’s claws to slash his face instead of slitting his throat. Rainfur’s teeth sank into the ghostly tom’s leg again, though this time it was just as a distraction. When Matar tried to pull his leg out of Rainfur’s grip, he kicked the brown and white tom in the stomach, making him fly backwards.
Rainfur quickly stood up after that, panting heavily as he watched Matar stand. Both of them just stared at each other, trying to catch their breath as they planned out their next attack. Rainfur quickly tried to remember what made him crazy. What made him want to fight. What made him want to kill.
Matar continued to gaze absently at Rainfur as he lunged. His claws were unsheathed as they slashed through the air, trying to find Rainfur’s skin. Grey locks of fur were found in Matar’s claws as Rainfur barely evaded the attack. He hissed in frustration as he realised he nearly got himself wounded.
Rainfur suddenly felt the headache again, and his vision faded for a moment. As he focused on the cat in front of him, he wondered of what Jactur was doing. He wondered what was creating these painful moments, and if it affected Jactur at all. If it did, Rainfur hoped that his partner was okay.
Matar suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but a faded line of brown and white to let Rainfur know where he went. The ghost-like tom appeared behind him, leaping toward his enemy with a sudden determined look in his eye. Rainfur turned quickly, but didn’t evade the attack like he’d hoped. Matar crashed into him and pushed him into the ground with his strong legs, leaving Rainfur’s head to painfully make contact with the blackened glass floor.
Matar bent down to bite his neck, but Rainfur kicked his stomach again, making the brown and white tom yowl with fury. Rainfur just pushed Matar off him before standing up and walking a few feet away so that he knew he was safe.
Protection. Rainfur suddenly thought. That’s what I fight for. That’s what makes me insane. I was protecting ThunderClan when Sharpstar made me insane. I was protecting Thorntail when the rogues made me insane. I was protecting Robinwing when the rogues made me insane the second time. That’s it. I was defending them.
Matar lunged as he realised Rainfur was planning something, making him hiss with frustration as he leaped out of the way. Matar attacked again, trying hard not to let Rainfur think anymore. In a wave of irritation, Rainfur jumped toward Matar and the two crashed into each other, creating a loud bang. They both fell to the ground before they started circling each other.
“No plan. . .will help you. . .Rainey . .” Matar murmured. “You are. . .as good as. . .dead with those. . .wounds.” They started circling each other, therefore leaving Rainfur enough time to continue thinking.
So who am I defending now? Rainfur asked himself. And how on earth will thinking of them make me insane? God, this is confusing. Rainfur quickly evaded Matar’s attack, twisting around so that he could continue watching the sly brown and white tom.
Robinwing. . .ShadowClan. . .My kits. . .RiverClan. . .Everyone. Rainfur thought, his eyes narrowing as Matar got ready for another attack. So how do I make myself insane?
Matar lunged again, though this time, Rainfur didn’t get out of the way fast enough. Claws entered his left hind leg as Matar raked them down his leg. Rainfur hissed in pain, and after he leaped away from Matar, he could feel sticky blood streaming down his leg.
I’ve got to pay more attention! Rainfur yelled to himself. But I need to figure this out! It’s the only way I have the slightest chance of beating him! Matar and Rainfur continued to stare at each other, both waiting for the other attack. Rainfur could see Matar thinking, and this scared him.
Okay, I’ve got to think. Alfie’s death made me insane in the first place, so maybe another death will do the same, Rainfur thought. He quickly tried to think of a death he could go insane over.
The first thing Rainfur thought of was Daniel’s death, which was the most depressing and one of the only memories that would make him that way. However, there was still a reminder in the back of his head that Daniel was now Stormpaw, and he was still alive. This also reminded Rainfur that he needed to return to his own mind before Jactur got himself killed.
Matar interrupted again by disappearing before Rainfur could think of anything else. The brown and white tom appeared up above him, but unfortunately for him, Rainfur had actually turned to look behind him and had gotten out of the way. It wasn’t on purpose, but Rainfur’s stupid movement saved his life.
As Matar tried to regain his breath, Rainfur thought some more. The only other deaths he could think of were Snowstorm, which didn’t matter much since he had little memories of the tom, and Amberstorm, but she ended up coming back to life. So if those deaths didn’t work, what would?
Matar lunged again, this time being visible, but still too quick for Rainfur to register the movement. The brown and white tom slashed his claws towards Rainfur, but he had backed up just in time and continued to run from Matar, who growled lowly in frustration.
This isn’t going to end anytime soon, Rainfur thought to himself. Great. By the time I defeat him everyone in the forest will be dead, and then what will I have to fight for? Rainfur’s eyes widened for just a moment, but he made sure not to show his realization to Matar. That’s it! I have to imagine someone dead!
Just then Matar disappeared. Rainfur had no idea where he was, but soon he felt a large amount of weight on his shoulders. He fell to the ground, rolling over as he tried to avoid getting scratched. His paws flailed in mid-air, but soon they were pinned down as well.
Rainfur quickly imagined Robinwing on the ground with her crimson blood staining her prefect grey fur. He imagined her lifeless eyes absently staring into the distance as her mangled throat spat out more blood. Then in the distance dark amber eyes narrowed and a sick smile showed. It was Sharpstar.
Anger, sadness, and hopelessness started to mix within him, but it still wasn’t enough. So he imagined a different death. His kits’. There were two. One looked like Robinwing and one looked like him, and each of them were lying in Robinwing’s blood which was now mixed with their own. Sharpstar’s face became more visible in the darkness of the den, making Rainfur hiss.
The anger had risen, the sadness had grown, and the hopelessness had made him struggle harder. Matar battled to keep him pinned. Rainfur knew that these images were there for a reason, but he hated them. They just made him remember of what might happen if he failed.
With a determined look on his face, Rainfur forced himself to think of Stormpaw with those absent ghost-like eyes and the full moon on his shoulder. He forced himself to think of several cats around Stormpaw, all of them dead and covered in their own blood. Matted and soaked, Stormpaw stood in the middle, looking absently in another direction.
Wake up! Rainfur hissed to himself as Matar raised his paw, preparing to slit his throat. This is what will happen if you die! This is what will happen if you lose! We need to get ready! We need to fight to our full strength! We don’t need Jactur to do it! We can do it on our own! Rainfur didn’t know why he was talking to himself as if he were someone else, but it worked. He could feel it.
There was a feeling of insanity within him now. Rainfur couldn’t explain it correctly, only that he now wanted to kill Matar. He wanted to rip the monster apart. He wanted to murderer Matar. This feeling was so familiar to him, and yet so distant. He hadn’t felt it in a long time, but it felt good. It felt excellent.
A horrible laugh escaped Rainfur’s mouth, and the sound would make any who heard it afraid. The corners of his lips formed a wicked smile that proved his craziness. His eyes had become darker, and his scar glowed brilliantly as Matar walked off of his enemy. Rainfur continued to laugh, enjoying the insanity that had finally returned.
Rainfur stood up, his evil grin showing Matar exactly how far he’d been pushed. The brown and white tom was shocked, and for once, he wasn’t staring absently. Instead, Matar’s ghostly eyes were wide with fear as Rainfur’s crazed eyes locked onto its enemy.
“You said you wanted to see how different I am without Jactur,” Rainfur said. “Well here’s your chance!”