Rainpaw lunged forward, his claws sheathed as he tried to fight against his mentor. Sharpfang was fast, but Rainpaw was turning into a speedy midget that actually took advantage of his small body instead of trying to be just like everyone else.
Sharpfang had a proud grin on his face as his apprentice continued to train, but Rainpaw had no idea why. It was as if his plan to get Rainpaw's insanity under control was working, which it wasn't. No matter how many times the scar was scratched and he rejected himself back into his mind, Rainpaw was still just as much of a killer as the time before. It had already been two weeks since his visit to RiverClan, and still the whole 'special training' wasn't working, meaning that he was coming back to camp with the same wounds on his shoulder for nothing.
“Good, Rainpaw,” said Sharpfang then. “Now, let's try this again and see if we make any progress. If not, we'll just call it a day, okay?” Rainpaw nodded, his rapid breathing catching onto the icy cold snow on the ground.
Leaf-bare was only barely beginning, but it seemed too slow. Snowdrift had hoped that Thorntail would have the kits after leaf-bare, but she was already so swollen that Rainpaw couldn't understand why his previous mentor hadn't exploded. The kitting was soon to come, and with leaf-bare moving as slowly as it did, there was no doubt that she'd have them during the dead of winter.
As Sharpfang walked up to him, he held his breath. Rainpaw knew what was next, and he didn't like it. Sharpfang swiftly gave his scar a small scratch, and then it began. Like the other thousands of times that Rainpaw's scar had been scratched, he immediately lunged at Sharpfang.
Sharpfang was ready for this, and quickly dodged to the side before Rainpaw was able to catch him. Rainpaw's small body was agile, though, and turned quickly back toward Sharpfang. His mentor, however, was anticipating this move as well. Sharpfang gave a quick dodge to the left and then quickly lunged forward toward Rainpaw. Rainpaw used his small body to get underneath Sharpfang, and then he pushed himself from the ground and into Sharpfang's stomach. His mentor gave a small yowl, and then fell to the ground. Rainpaw was proud that Sharpfang hadn't expected the move, but he didn't stop to gloat about it. His mind was focused on killing.
Rainpaw turned and pinned his mentor down, his dark blue eyes narrowing with anger on his prey. His claws were unsheathed now, and they were digging into Sharpfang's skin. His lips were drawn back, showing his long fangs to his mentor. Rainpaw laughed a laugh that he hoped never to hear ever again. Even though his mind was focused on killing, there was a still small voice in the back of his mind telling him not to do anything.
Suddenly Rainpaw felt teeth in his scruff. Jayflight—the volunteer helper—was doing his job and pulling him off of Sharpfang before he got killed. Rainpaw's body was struggling, but his mind was not. It was relieved, happy that he was being saved.
It wasn't long before Jayflight got him off of Sharpfang and then got his body to give up. Soon Rainpaw was engulfed into shadows, and then quickly woken up again. Rainpaw's body was shaking as he stood but he didn't care. He didn't want to do this anymore—he wanted to just simply leave his scar be.
“Where are you going, Rainpaw?” asked Sharpfang curiously behind him as he tried to leave. Rainpaw sighed.
“I'm going back to camp,” Rainpaw mewed. “This is getting us nowhere.” With that, he left and headed for camp. Well, at least he hoped it was for camp. Truthfully, he had no idea where he was going.
Rainpaw's mind was buzzing. Even though he'd just said to Sharpfang that the special training had gotten him no where, it was a lie. Something was happening, but he couldn't tell his new mentor about it.
His mind was changing. He was no longer feeling such an urge to kill, though he still wanted to. It just wasn't as demanding, Rainpaw thought. That part of his mind was dulling and at the moment Rainpaw didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
Rainpaw's nose suddenly caught something unfamiliar. It wasn't prey—it was a cat. However, this cat wasn't one he'd met before and it wasn't one from ThunderClan. His senses then grew alert, and even more so as many more unfamiliar scents showed up.
Then one was familiar, one that he'd only met once before.
Rainpaw hissed in anger, though he didn't move. His mind was arguing with him. He knew he should go back and warn his Clan that there was an attack, but his anger was urging him to lunge forward and kill that cat in front. The one who'd forced him to not only remember, but to frighten those he loved.
Then, as he saw the cat's shadows reach him, Rainpaw turned and ran toward camp. He could hear the yowls of the rogues behind him, making him go a bit slower than he should, but he kept going. Rainpaw thought of it as protecting his family, and that was all that was making him go forward.
As he reached camp he could hear the other cat's gaining on him. Rainpaw hissed in frustration and then pushed through the thorn barrier, trying to be loud as he did so. Rainpaw then looked to the cats looking at him, narrowing his eyes with anger.
“The rogues are attacking!” Rainpaw called. “They're coming!”
The Clan then went into complete and utter chaos. The queens rushed to get their kits into the nursery, Snowdrift ran into his den while carrying a few herbs, Ravenstar came out of his den and got down from the Highrock, and Jayflight was barking out orders as if he were leader. Rainpaw just turned around and glared at the thorn barrier, waiting for his prey to arrive.
Then they came.
Rainpaw's eyes widened as he realised what was happening. There were too many of them—probably twice as many as ThunderClan. They were pouring into camp, each of them finding a battle partner easily. Rainpaw lost track of his enemy, but then found him. This was his fight.
Rainpaw sprinted forward, dodging the battles as if they were rocks. He only had eyes for the tom these cats called master, and he wasn't going to fight anyone else. Rainpaw then lunged at the tom, his teeth bared and ready for a fight. The tom turned before Rainpaw could surprise him, and then quickly dodged the attack.
Rainpaw rolled a few tail-lengths before finding his paws and standing up. He growled and lashed his tail at the tom, hoping to provoke him.
“Ah, it's you again,” growled the tom. “I'm so happy to finally see you. After all, we haven't really had an equal fight, now have we?” Rainpaw hissed.
“This is a battle, not a picnic,” Rainpaw yowled. “Hurry up and fight like a real tom.”
“Ah, but you see, there is a tradition I have stood by,” said the tom, also lashing his tail. “I want to know the name of the cat I kill so that I can tell the story to others more easily. Don't you agree?”
“I'm just here to kill you,” growled Rainpaw. “I'm not doing anything else.”
“You won't get a full fight out of me until you tell me your name,” the tom teased. “Oh, and did I mention that I'll have to tell you my name? I think that's something you'd wish to know.” Rainpaw stopped hissing then. He actually did want to know the name of the cat that he was fighting with.
“I'm Rainpaw, apprentice of ThunderClan,” Rainpaw muttered. “I started out as a loner and I know a few things about Twolegs.”
“You know about humans, eh?” asked the tom curiously. “Well that's interesting. . .”
“Keep to your part of the deal!” Rainpaw hissed. “Tell me your name! Or will I have to beat it out of you?”
“My name is The Mountain's Shadow, and I was a fighter for The Cats of the Storms.” the tom explained. “You can just call me Shadow if you wish.” Rainpaw tilted his head.
“You were a fighter for them?” asked Rainpaw. “What on earth does that mean?” Shadow didn't answer. Instead he lunged toward Rainpaw.
Rainpaw hissed with frustration before dodging and then attacking. He lunged forward, his eyes narrowed on his enemy, and then bit down hard on Shadow's scruff. Shadow didn't flinch.
Shadow easily threw him off then, an evil grin across the black cat's face. He laughed an evil laugh before slashing his long white claws across Rainpaw's chest. Shadow then bit down on Rainpaw's neck, creating a nasty wound that was far from Rainpaw's scar.
Rainpaw kicked Shadow with his hind legs, forcing the big tom off him. Shadow stepped off, but then attacked again. Rainpaw was pinned down again, and this time it seemed almost impossible to move. Shadow's claws unsheathed into Rainpaw's skin then, making the young apprentice yowl in pain. Shadow continued to laugh.
Everything went into slow motion. Rainpaw watched in horror as Shadow slowly came toward his neck again, this time trying to actually kill him. There was no way Rainpaw could move and he was in too much pain to scream for help. He just watched, absently accepting his death.
Isn't this what I wanted? Rainpaw thought. Isn't this what I wanted to happen from the beginning? I wanted to die and join my brother in the afterlife. I wanted to just be alone. Isn't this what I wanted? The thing was, however, he didn't want it. Though his body had already given up, there was a part of his mind that wanted him to struggle. Rainpaw knew what it wanted.
Rainpaw had made many friends and had been treated like family. Rainpaw had been protected and knew a very complicating secret that no one else knew. Rainpaw wanted to see Thorntail have her kits. Rainpaw wanted to see Flamepaw and Amberpaw become Warriors. Rainpaw wanted to become a Warrior. Himself. Rainpaw wanted a mate and he wanted kits. He wanted to live.
StarClan was right. This life had changed his mind. A lot.
Suddenly Shadow's weight had been taken off him. Rainpaw had only caught a flash of ginger fur before he was free. When he sat up, however, he realised that Flamepaw had pulled Shadow off him. Rainpaw stood up then, a little angry at Flamepaw.
“I don't need your help, Flamepaw!” Rainpaw hissed. “Let me fight him!”
“No, I will not!” Flamepaw growled back at him. “You are still too small to be fighting a cat like this! Besides, what would happen if he scratched your scar?” Rainpaw growled.
“I had that part under control!” Rainpaw objected.
“Just go fight someone smaller—I'll deal with him,” growled Flamepaw. “I'm older and stronger.”
“Rainpaw!” screeched a familiar voice. “Rainpaw, help me!” Rainpaw turned around and gasped in shock. Sweetkit was in the clearing, shivering with fear. She had called him to help, and now he could see why. A grey tom was inching toward her with the look of a killer on his face.
Rainpaw yowled with fury before darting off toward Sweetkit, remembering her promise. She'd made him her brother, and therefore he had better start acting like one. Rainpaw wasn't going to let down another one of his siblings.
Rainpaw then lunged at her attacker, lashing his tail and unsheathing his claws. The grey tom grinned wider at the sign of a better fight, but then dodged Rainpaw's attack. Rainpaw rolled again, but this time he did not make it to his paws. The grey tom pinned him easily, and now he knew that this fight wasn't going to be a picnic, like he'd hoped.
The grey tom raked his claws down Rainpaw's stomach, feeling the need to inflict even more pain on a dying cat. Rainpaw yowled in pain, hoping that the grey cat would give some sort of opening soon. The grey tom then screeched in triumph, as if to brag to the other cats. Rainpaw just hoped the tom wouldn't go anywhere near his scar.
The grey tom then bit into his right shoulder, the shoulder without a scar. Now the tom was trying to kill him, though it didn't seem to be going well. Rainpaw yowled again, and then gave a little whimper. This was the first time in a long time that he felt like a child.
“Aren't you afraid, kit?” growled the tom. “You're going to die! I need to see you trembling!” The grey tom then raked his claws down Rainpaw's flank, making a large gash that stung against the snow that covered the ground.
“I am not scared, if that's what you want. . .” Rainpaw muttered.
“Ha!” laughed the grey tom. “Yeah right! You're shivering already and soon you'll have no strength to control your emotions. Say good-bye to the world, kit. We ain't gonna miss ya!” Rainpaw's heart was beating quickly, but he knew what to do.
Rainpaw scooped up the snow with his left paw and then flung what he could at the grey tom's eyes. The tom was momentarily blinded, giving Rainpaw just the opening he needed to roll out of the grey tom's grip.
Rainpaw took in as much icy breath as he could while the grey tom recovered from the snow in his eyes. Then, just as Rainpaw got enough air, he lunged at the tom. Since the tom hadn't been expecting this, Rainpaw had pinned him down easily. Then before the grey tom could recover from the attack, Rainpaw bit down on his throat, hoping that the grey tom would give up soon.
Rainpaw felt the grey tom's heart beat slow down and so he stopped. He didn't want to kill, not until he knew that he absolutely had to. So Rainpaw looked at the grey tom with expressionless eyes.
“I told you I'm not afraid,” Rainpaw mewed. “I know death – I've seen it, and I am not afraid.”
“W-what are you?” asked the grey tom, fear flashing through his eyes. I must be looking really creepy to him to make him this frightened,Rainpaw thought.
“Nothing special,” Rainpaw replied. “Just human that was turned into a cat.” The grey tom then snapped at Rainpaw's neck, though it wasn't really worth it.
“You aren't going to give up, are you?” asked Rainpaw, keeping his tight grip on the grey tom.
“Of course not!” the grey tom snapped. “I was trained to kill or be killed! I will not abandon my training!” Rainpaw then looked into the tom's eyes harder, finding nothing but anger and a little bit of fear.
He had looked too long.
The grey tom slipped from underneath him and then attacked Rainpaw. Rainpaw evaded the attack with difficulty, but didn't let his eyes move from the grey tom for one second. The grey tom attacked again, and Rainpaw dodged, but made it close on purpose. While only two inches from the grey tom, Rainpaw slit his throat, and then watched as the grey body fell to the ground.
Rainpaw looked at the body and then at the crimson stained snow. Was that who he was? Was he pure as snow until he saw blood? He'd seen so much of it in his life, and now right in front of him was a cat he killed on purpose, a cat he killed without any excuse.
“Rainpaw!” called the familiar voice of Robinpaw. Rainpaw didn't look at her as he heard her walk up to him. He just looked at the body, letting it sink in. His paws were stained with blood but why? He didn't know. He wanted to know.
“Rainpaw,” said Robinpaw as she came up to him. “I saw the fight. Sweetkit's fine, but she's—” Robinpaw then gasped, probably noticing the body in front of him. It was quiet for a few moments before Robinpaw moved.
“R-Rainpaw?” she asked in a low whisper. “A-are you okay?”
“I'm fine,” Rainpaw murmured. “Well, I'm not insane or anything, anyway.” Robinpaw nudged him, getting his attention. He then looked to her, and then warmed up when he looked into her jade green eyes.
“You look horrible,” Robinpaw stated, licking a bit of blood that was about to drip into Rainpaw's eye. “Are you sure you don't want to go see Snowdrift?” Rainpaw then realised that the battle with the rogues was over, making him shake his head a bit to get back to reality.
He looked around then, daring himself to find out what had happened. There was blood everywhere but there were few dead bodies. None of the dead bodies seemed to be ThunderClan cats, and the wounded all seemed to be healthy enough to walk over to Snowdrift, who seemed busier than Rainpaw had ever seen him.
“Snowdrift seems busy enough,” said Rainpaw. “I'll live.” Robinpaw licked him before running off to see her mentor, which was actually a good thing. Moments later he was called to the medicine den by none other than Thorntail.
Rainpaw ran as fast as he could to the den, quickly rushing past Snowdrift, who was outside the den, and then over to Thorntail. When Rainpaw saw her he was shocked. She had many wounds on her and her swollen belly had a large scratch on it.
“Thorntail!” Rainpaw said. “You're not supposed to fight when you're expecting kits—just look what happened!” Thorntail's head went low to the ground, looking very ashamed.
“I'm sorry, Rainpaw, but I had to,” explained Thorntail. “Sweetkit was in danger!”
“I took care of the danger,” Rainpaw pointed out. “Besides, leave the protecting to us Warriors. You're already taking care of who knows how many kits within you. How do you think I would feel if you died?” Thorntail's head went lower, but then she sighed.
“It doesn't matter,” said Thorntail. “I'm too weak—how can I kit in this condition?”
“Just pray to StarClan that you'll kit late,” said Rainpaw. “Then you'll have enough energy.” Thorntail rolled her eyes, but then suddenly widened them. She looked absently at the ground as if something was happening within her.
“Rainpaw!” Thorntail gasped. “Get Snowdrift! Now!” Rainpaw's heart raced as he darted out of the den to go get Snowdrift, hearing the whimpers of his previous mentor.
“Snowdrift!” Rainpaw yelled as he finally got to the medicine cat. “It's Thorntail—I don't know what's happening! She just called for you all of a sudden and—” Rainpaw didn't say anymore. Snowdrift was already on his way into the medicine den.
Rainpaw followed, trying to see what was going on. Thorntail was breathing rapidly by the time he got there, and now he had a hint of what was going on but wasn't sure.
“Thorntail, just breath,” Snowdrift told her. “Just breathe in and out, there's no reason to be tense.”
“It hurts!” Thorntail exclaimed. “The gash on my belly—it hurts!”
“This won't be an easy kitting, Thorntail,” warned Snowdrift. “But you'll have to go on with it if you want to live. Now just breathe.” Snowdrift then looked to him.
“Rainpaw, I'm going to have to trust you with her,” Snowdrift explained. “I got many other cats out there waiting for me to heal them and this kitting could take a long time. I need to see to them first.” Rainpaw's eyes widened.
“But I'm no medicine cat!” Rainpaw objected. “I don't know what to do!”
“Just keep her calm until the kits arrive,” Snowdrift explained. “When the kits are out just make sure that they're breathing and then give them to her. Thorntail will know what to do.”
“But what about her wounds!” Rainpaw pointed out.
“I have a few leaves of marigold and some horsetail in the stocks,” said Snowdrift. “I'm sure you can scent them out. Just chew up the marigold leaves and let the juice go onto her wounds. Then get some cobwebs to stop the bleeding—it's not that hard.”
“Rainpaw, you have to do this,” said Snowdrift. “for Thorntail.” Rainpaw opened his mouth but then closed it. Snowdrift was right—he needed to do this for his mentor.
Snowdrift noticed that he understood and then left with a nod, quickly returning to his duty. Rainpaw turned back to Thorntail and smiled weakly at her.
“Guess I'm stuck with you now,” Rainpaw muttered. “I hope I don't mess anything up.” Thorntail smiled back, but Rainpaw could tell she was in pain. She didn't reply, but that was okay. He knew what to do now.
Thorntail screeched a few times in the thirty minutes they were waiting. Snowdrift kept coming in to check on her before grabbing some herbs and returning to the other cats. From the conversation outside, Snowdrift had apparently forbidden anyone to go into the medicine den until Thorntail's kitting was over.
Then it started.
Thorntail began pushing, making Rainpaw grow more alert. He watched for the kits, hoping that they'd be out soon. He hated seeing Thorntail in so much pain. It wasn't long before he heard a little high-pitched squeal.
Rainpaw took the kit, then, and started licking it. The kit squealed and struggled, trying to get away from his grip. After hearing the kit's heart-beat he shoved it over toward Thorntail, who let it suckle at her belly while she pushed some more.
Another kit then came, this one's white coat easy to spot against Thorntail's long black fur. Rainpaw licked this one like he did the other, and soon gave it to Thorntail.
The last kit took a little longer than the first and second. It seemed to get stuck, but was then out in no time. Thorntail collapsed to the floor after the final kit was out, breathing loudly. Rainpaw ignored that for now as he licked the third kit, which was about half the size of the other two kits. After the kit squealed a few times Rainpaw let it go to Thorntail, breathing rapidly.
It was then that Snowdrift walked in, seeming to be relieved that Thorntail didn't look that bad. Rainpaw stepped back as Snowdrift examined the exhausted queen. However, when Snowdrift started to frown, Rainpaw's heart once again began to race.
“What's wrong?” Rainpaw asked, a worried look on his face. Snowdrift waited a few moments before looking to Rainpaw.
“She's too weak, Rainpaw,” Snowdrift explained. “She won't be able to feed the kits. She'll die if she's forced to, but I don't know how to fix that. . .”
“Couldn't we give them to any of the other Queens?” asked Rainpaw.
“No!” Thorntail gasped. “I don't want these kits to be raised by just anyone. Besides, their rightful place is with their father, so they should be his. If I can't have them, he should.”
“But he's in RiverClan!” Rainpaw pointed out. “How on earth could we get these kits over there?”
“I don't know, but you'll have to,” said Thorntail. “They need to know their father. Do it for me.” Rainpaw sighed then, realising that he was giving up all to easily. He didn't care. If this was what Thorntail wanted, than so be it.
“Alright, I'll do it,” said Rainpaw. “I'll see what I can do. Carrying three kits is going to be tough, but I'll do it. If that is what you want Thorntail. Besides, it shouldn't be that difficult. Bravestar and Wolfheart both know about the kits, so it should be easy.”
“Thank you,” said Thorntail, her eyes filled with relief. “Thank you, Rainpaw, thank you!”
“No problem,” said Rainpaw before turning to Snowdrift. “Is there any way out of this den besides the entrance? I don't think Ravenstar would respect my decision to go out into a blizzard with three kits on my way to RiverClan.” Snowdrift chuckled before flicking his tail toward a small dark tunnel near the stock of herbs.
“I use it all the time to get outside,” said Snowdrift. “It'll lead you right outside the camp.” Rainpaw smiled.
“Thanks,” said Rainpaw before carefully picking up the three kits.
As Rainpaw walked into the tunnel, he called himself crazy. This plan wouldn't work and he knew it. He'd die before he even got to ShadowClan territory. It was a fact. Not only was he seriously wounded from the battle, he was going into a blizzard that didn't look like it was going to stop soon. Then there was the fact that RiverClan was so far away. He was doomed. However, Rainpaw was not going to give up. Not when Thorntail was counting on him. They were her kits and he needed to protect them, no matter how crazy he seemed to be while he did it.