Blazing - Book One: Into the Wild

Seasons ago, Bluefur refused to give up her kits, and Thistleclaw became deputy in her place. Thistlestar leads his clan cruelly, greedy for land. In his territorial rage, he chases away and injures young kittypet Rusty. RiverClan rescues Rusty and accepts him into their clan, but while he just wants to learn the ways of his clan, he finds himself in the middle of a desperate war.


14. Chapter 12

Firepaw's paws drummed across the hard surface of the twoleg bridge as he raced across it. His heart was beating out of his chest and his lungs burned for air and relief.

When Firepaw finally reached the reed wall of RiverClan, he hurried through the camp entrance, panting heavily. Without giving himself more than a heartbeat to rest, he hurried across camp to where Yellowfang was curled in a stiff ball. "Yellowfang!" He called, prodding her. "Wake up!"

With a huff, the she-cat raised her head, orange eyes glowing in the darkness. "I wasn't sleeping."

"You have to get away," Firepaw told her, ears angling back as he heard yowls of his returning clanmates. "Now! Brokenstar said a rogue was loose and they think it's you!"

Yellowfang simply shifted and grunted. "So Brokenstar kept his promise."

Firepaw frowned. "What promise?"

With a hiss of disgust, Yellowfang said, "ShadowClan's noble leader vowed to drive me from every corner of the four clans' territories." She spat with distaste. "What did he say about me?"

Firepaw kneaded his paws anxiously. "He said you'd spurned the warrior code and had gone rogue and that we had to kill you. And that until then, we'd better keep an eye on our kits. He never mentioned you by name, but my clanmates put two and two together…" Shaking his head, he growled, "But that doesn't matter! You need to leave, before they hurt you!"

Yellowfang watched him without moving. With a heavy sigh, she only shifted slightly, and said, "Firepaw, I've been running for far too long. Perhaps RiverClan will listen to the truth. Perhaps they won't. But I'm old and I'm tired and I'm done running."

Firepaw winced as he heard his clanmates pushing their way through the camp entrance. "Yellowfang!" Blackclaw yowled. "Where is she?"

"Blackclaw!" Crookedstar snapped. He parted his jaws to say something else, before Whiteclaw shot forward towards Yellowfang.

"Kit-killer!" The white tom spat as he leaped for her.

"Get away from her!" Firepaw shouted, rearing up on his hind legs to meet the warrior's attack. Whiteclaw slammed into him, heavy as a boulder, and the two rolled head-over-heels, spitting and clawing.

"Stop this madness this instant!" Crookedstar roared, and Firepaw froze as the two toms broke apart. I've never heard him so angry.

Whiteclaw let out a low hiss, but made no move towards Yellowfang, who had jumped back to avoid the fighting toms. She was staring at Firepaw with wide eyes. "She should be killed before she harms my kits!"

Firepaw felt an odd prick of sympathy for the warrior. He's afraid for his kits. As much as he hated the white tom, he could, in a sense, see where he was coming from. But Yellowfang doesn't deserve this!

"Yellowfang has killed no cat I know of," Crookedstar growled. "And we cannot be sure of whom Brokenstar spoke of- he himself has spurned the code!"

A few cats nodded in agreement. "I guess that's true…" Petaldust muttered.

"We must allow Yellowfang to speak for herself, otherwise we are no better than ShadowClan and Brokenstar." Crookedstar fixed Whiteclaw with a stern look. "I understand your need to protect your kits, Whiteclaw, but that does not justify harming a cat who has yet to have been proven of any crime."

"Fine," Whiteclaw hissed, backing away. His tail lashed furiously before he sat down and licked his chest fur.

"Yellowfang," Crookedstar said, turning to the she-cat. "Brokenstar has implied that you are a danger to our kits. Is this true? And if not, why would he spread such lies about you?"

Yellowfang drew herself up. Firepaw could smell no fear-scent on her, but she seemed to be shaking. "I served as ShadowClan's medicine cat long before many of you were kitted- and before that, I was a warrior. I watched Brokenstar grow from a playful kit to a bloodthirsty warrior… and many days I wish I could have done something to stop him."

"How can you speak of your own leader that way?" Skyheart asked, curling her lip.

"He is no leader of mine," Yellowfang spat. "Let me finish. He was eager as an apprentice, and much more so as a warrior. He urged his father, Raggedstar, to fight against WindClan many more times than some of us would have liked. In one of these battles, our deputy, Cloudpelt, was fatally wounded and died a few days later. He was nothing like Brokenstar- he cared for our wellbeing, and perhaps the forest would be in a time of peace if he had succeeded Raggedstar."

"Brokenstar was then named our deputy. Hardly a pawful of moons later, Raggedstar died in another battle and Brokenstar became leader. Everything changed then." Yellowfang's voice became tight with pain as she told her story. "He forced three-moon old kits to fight and train as apprentices with claws unsheathed. Many of our kits never even saw battle, because they died in Brokenstar's vicious training. Others died in senseless wars because they were too fragile to fight."

The clan had grown solemn by now, and most were shuffling closer, heads low. Firepaw felt a stab of pity in his chest. Imagine if Mallowtail's kits were training right now… They're too small to fight properly. ThunderClan would eat them for breakfast.

"Moons passed," Yellowfang continued. "I tried time and time again to reason with Brokenstar to stop the training. Our kits were dying, and I could not do nothing. I'd begun to hope that perhaps Brokenstar's countless battles would claim his lives and end this. I was too blind to see what he would do." Yellowfang lowered her head, staring at her paws. Firepaw could see the raw pain in her narrowed eyes. "He murdered the kits of my mother's second litter. They were hardly more than a moon old before they went missing. I found them, still warm and soaked in their own blood. Who else could my clan blame but me? I will not deny that I am a bitter cat, but I would never murder my own youngest sisters. Brokenstar put the blame on me, and I was exiled from my clan."

Silence fell upon the clan for a long moment. Firepaw stared at Yellowfang in horror. Brokenstar seemed pretty bad… but I can't believe he would do something this… this terrible.

To Firepaw's surprise, Mallowtail approached Yellowfang first. The queen's tail was low. "I'm sorry," she murmured to Yellowfang. "I never should have been so cruel. I realize now I jumped to conclusions."

Yellowfang shrugged, but Firepaw could sense the relief coming from her. "I understand," she replied. "You only wished to protect your kits." Firepaw caught the low whisper of Yellowfang. "Nothing a kit does can sever that bond."

What was that supposed to mean? Firepaw thought, frowning. Yellowfang said she'd never had kits… He shook his head. I shouldn't doubt her word. She's probably seen so many queens in her lifetime that she knows by experience.

Crookedstar rose. "Yellowfang, I am sorry to hear what you have been through. I believe what you've said, and considering it, I would like to invite you to stay here in RiverClan- not as a prisoner, but of your own will."

Yellowfang looked up, surprised. "Really?" she rasped.

"Yes," Crookedstar nodded. "You have been through too much for me to throw you out without it weighing on my conscience. I believe your experience and wisdom could help us greatly- not only in our clan life, but in someday defeating Brokenstar as well."

Yellowfang narrowed her eyes as she nodded. "I accept, then. I do not want to see my clan destroyed… but Brokenstar has begun to ruin them with his leadership. If you plan to overthrow him, I will be glad to help you."

"So be it," Crookedstar said. "Yellowfang is no longer a prisoner of RiverClan. She is free to stay here or leave of her own accord. Treat her with the respect you would any elder or medicine cat."

Firepawwas surprised- but very glad- to see that only a few cats muttered their disagreement. Others seemed not to care, and departed towards their dens.

Mudfur padded towards Yellowfang. "Perhaps you'd like to share my den?" he offered. "It's much less drafty in there- you'll wake up without sore bones, that's for sure."

Yellowfang nodded. "Thank you. I suppose I will."

Firepaw let out a purr before he turned away towards the apprentices' den. He was glad that this was resolved peacefully, and that Yellowfang was choosing to settle in RiverClan. He could congratulate her in the morning… but for now, he was exhausted, and felt he needed a long rest. Let's just hope I don't get the dawn patrol tomorrow.

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