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.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11615947/1/Blazing-Book-One-Into-the-Wild

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16. Chapter 14

It was not long before Firepaw heard the confrontation begin.

"What is the meaning of this?" A deep ShadowClan voice snarled. Firepaw strained his neck- it seemed to be a large, dark tom who was leading the patrol.

Silverstream stepped forward confidently, standing at the very edge of the twoleg bridge, head and tail raised in defiance. "We know that ShadowClan has abused the privilege we gave them to fish in our river. Turn back now and don't return."

Firepaw heard the tom scoff scornfully. "You're outnumbered. Being Crookedstar's daughter doesn't grant you any special privileges of being able to order me around, fish-face. You step aside- we came here to hunt, and we will hunt."

Silverstream spat. "You made a mistake coming here tonight, frog-breath!"

As soon as the words left her mouth, she lunged forward with a screeched and smashed into the tom. In a heartbeat, the bridge was alive with the sounds of battle.

Vixenpaw made as though to dash forward, but Beetlenose stopped her. "Not yet. Let Silverstream's patrol hit them properly."

Firepaw watched anxiously as the two patrols writhed and screeched in battle. Heavypaw delivered a stunning blow to a young she-cat's head as two small ShadowClan apprentices swiped at Loudbelly- but their eyes were wide with fear.

The large tom tore himself from Silverstream, leaving a clump of fur in her jaws. His eyes seemed to flicker towards the two apprentices- clearly still kits- before he yowled, "Fine! ShadowClan, retreat!"

Silverstream spat out the fur, eyes glittering in the moonlight. "Coward!" She shouted, tail lashing. "Don't come back!"

"Brokenstar will hear of this!" He snarled in return. His clanmates retreated quickly, and he turned to flee.

Beetlenose let out a low growl. "Now we strike."

Firepaw felt his heart wrench- he had seen, for a moment, a flicker of compassion in the leading tom when he gazed at the small kits. Firepaw was certain he tried to retreat to save them, but now the lives of kits were going to be in danger again.

As the patrol hurried towards them, Beetlenose charged forward with a yowl. The patrol skidded to a halt, confusion and shock clear in their eyes. They were not expecting to have their escape cut off. Throat tight, Firepaw leaped into the fray as the battle began again.

"I told you coming here was a mistake!" Silverstream yowled, leading her patrol back towards the battle as she leaped for a startled she-cat.

Firepaw found himself facing up with a battle-scarred tom that only seemed just older than him. The young tom's eyes were narrowed to slits. "You're the cowards!" The young tom snarled, lunging forward. "No honorable warrior fights like this!"

Firepaw flinched as he ducked away- the young cat's words weren't wrong. They'd cut off the escape route of a retreating patrol and were endangering two small kits who likely had little to no battle training. However, as Firepaw turned again to face his attacker, he felt a spark of anger- No honorable warrior forces other Clans to give up hunting rights, either!

Firepaw lashed out with a paw, claws unsheathed, and felt a ripple of satisfaction as his claws tore through the unsuspecting brown tom's ear. The young warrior stepped back, shaking blood from his face, and Firepaw took the opportunity to pounce, springing forward and shoving the warrior off his paws. Firepaw quickly pinned the tom- but not before letting out a yowl as the tom pummeled his belly with sharp blows from his hind legs. Winded, Firepaw stumbled back, gasping for breath.

Before he could compose himself, Vixenpaw and Shadepaw were on the enemy tom. The two she-cats moved fluidly- matching blow for blow, and making groom for the other to strike without needing to tell the other what to do. The she-cats put up a fierce offense, and the tom was forced to continually step back without having a chance to counter.

As Firepaw regained his breath, he felt thorn-sharp claws in his tail and whipped about to face his attacker. Teeth bared, Firepaw prepared to attack- only to still himself as he found one of the small kits facing up to him, completely puffed up in a way that could be found comical if not for the situation at hand. Firepaw felt that familiar sting of pity- despite the brave face, the little kit's eyes were wide with fear, and they were trembling all over.

Firepaw let his shoulders sag. The kit was scratched up terribly, and yet they still were trying to fight… What kind of training does Brokenstar give these poor kits? "Go home," he sighed. "Please, for your own sake."

"I c-can't!" He squeaked fearfully, shaking even harder. "Mousepaw f-f-fell down and won't wake up! I can't leave without her!"

Firepaw's heart wrenched. All of this is so, so wrong. "You have to go," he tried. "Otherwise you might get hurt like Mousepaw."

The kit looked down at his little paws. "I-I dunno how to. I dunno where home is."

Firepaw swallowed and glanced back at the screeching tangle of warriors. Silverstream and Blackclaw were pinning the large gray tom to the ground while he spat and clawed furiously. The young tom Firepaw had faced earlier was bleeding heavily from a gash on his stomach, and yet he continued to fight, scoring his claws across Vixenpaw's face. Two she-cats, one with a graying muzzle and one who looked no more than a young apprentice, were fighting back to back against Whiteclaw, Loudbelly, and Reedtail.

And finally, a tiny gray shape lay limp in a pool of blood, Skyheart standing over it with eyes wide with horror while Beetlenose looked on with a cold expression.

Firepaw's jaw tightened. Though Skyheart was standing over the limp kit, it was Beetlenose who had paws bathed with fresh blood.

I have to take this kit out of the fight. He looked down at the trembling kit who had shut his eyes tight. "Alright. I'm going to pick you up and carry you to the border. You wait there until the battle is over or another patrol comes. Okay?"

The kit squeaked fearfully and scrambled back. "No! You're an enemy warrior! You'll eat me!"

Firepaw shook his head and stepped forward. "I won't. The warrior code says cats should not kill unless absolutely necessary, and it also says that no kit, no matter what the Clan, should be harmed by any cat."

The kitten stared up at him in confusion. "I never… Brokenstar didn't teach us those parts."

"I'm going to help you," Firepaw said firmly before he quickly ducked down and snatched the kit by his scruff. The kit let out a startled yowl and began to wail piteously.

The stocky gray tom let out a roar at the sound. "Cedarpaw!"

Firepaw took to his paws and began to run. Maybe if they think I'm stealing Cedarpaw they'll try harder to escape!

He felt bushes and bracken whip his sides as his paws skimmed the grass before he reached the firm dirt twoleg path. Firepaw could hear his paws drumming against the compact earth just under Cedarpaw's continual squealing. A furious yowl sounded from behind him- at least one cat had tore away from the skirmish and was following him.

Firepaw pushed himself harder. The run was not easy- certainly not with Cedarpaw's small body bumping and knocking against his chest while the kit wailed and flailed in distress- but he forced himself to keep going. He could soon taste the acrid, bitter scent of the Thunderpath on his tongue, and knew he was close.

Firepaw slowed to a halt as he saw the smooth black surface stretched out before him. Ears pricked, the apprentice crept closer. Do I risk crossing? If the ShadowClan warriors caught up to him as he was returning, he would be crowfood. A fight on the Thunderpath was not a safe battle by any means.

Firepaw gently set the kit down and nosed him towards a bush. "Stay right there," he ordered. "And don't you dare try crossing the Thunderpath until your patrol comes back- you'll be squashed by a monster before you can say 'mouse'."

Cedarpaw stared up at him with wide, terrified eyes. "Th… thank you!" he finally squeaked. "You saved me. I won't forget about you!"

Firepaw blinked and nodded. He was surprised by the feeling of warmth that he felt as Cedarpaw retreated into the bush. Even if I get in trouble… I'm glad I saved him.

As Firepaw turned around to head back towards the battle, he was faced by the snarling, furious gray ShadowClan tom. The stocky cat was bleeding from countless wounds- an ear had been shredded to ribbons, his shoulders and back were riddled with cuts and bites, and a chunk of fur was missing from the base of his tail. And yet, the tom glared at him with such ferocity as Firepaw faced him, and the apprentice could not help but feel respect for the cat's fierce stubbornness to go on in his state.

"Cedarpaw," The tom spat. "What did you do with him?"

Firepaw forced his fur to lie flat as he jerked his head towards the dense bush the kit was hidden in. "I carried him here so he wouldn't get killed like the other apprentice… Mousepaw, he said." Firepaw stared evenly back at the tom.

There was a flicker of pain in the tom's gaze, but it was quickly replaced by confusion. "You saved my son," he said. "Why? We were on your territory, and we were in battle… what compelled you to leave your clanmates to save mine?"

Firepaw's tail twitched. "It wasn't about my Clan," he responded shortly. "And it wasn't about yours. It was about saving a kit- a kit that both our Clans put in danger. The Warrior Code says we shall not let harm come to kits, so I saved him."

The tom stared at him for many moments silently, seeming slightly stunned. "The code…" he murmured. "Brokenstar has thrown it away." He quickly shook his head and turned his fierce stare back on to Firepaw. "This doesn't change things," he growled, stepping forward. However, Firepaw noticed he had sheathed his claws. "But I won't forget this. You're that kittypet apprentice, aren't you?"

Firepaw nodded curtly, but refrained from growling. "Yes."

"Huh." The tom was quiet again before he spoke a few moments later. "I thought you were weak, like others do. But maybe you're strong in ways others aren't… in ways I'm not. My last apprentice died like Mousepaw did… I should have known better."

The tom passed Firepaw and nosed under the bush before pulling the tiny Cedarpaw out from under the bush. He gave his son a quick lick over the ears, and Firepaw watched the quiet smile of relief that passed over the tom's features. The ShadowClan warrior glanced at him again. "...Thank you, kittypet."

"Firepaw." The apprentice flicked his tail. "It's Firepaw."

The tom seemed surprised, but he quickly shook it off. "Hmm. Okay." He rose again, and glanced down at his son. "My name is Flintfang." Flintfang looked back at Firepaw again, expression neutral. "My patrol is coming this way. I'd leave if I were you. We're sorely beaten, but I won't stop them if they attack you."

Firepaw dipped his head. He's bluffing, but I'll let him leave with his dignity. The cat had nearly lost his son, and clearly had history with losing young cats like Mousepaw in battle. Flintfang deserved to be able to go home.

The apprentice turned away again, and glanced back over his shoulder at the pair. "Goodbye. Don't come back here. Crookedstar is not taking this lightly." There was no hint of aggression in Firepaw's tone- just the tired, simple facts, that Firepaw wished hadn't been forced to happen in the first place. Muscles already stiff from the hard sprint, Firepaw lowered his head and trudged back towards the Twoleg bridge.

Tonight would be a victory for his Clan, but Firepaw didn't feel victorious.

"You!" Blackclaw screeched as Firepaw came back into view. "I saw you, you wretched coward! You took off at the first sign of battle!"

Firepaw furiously raised his head to defend himself, but Vixenpaw quickly jumped to his defense. "That's not true!" The black she-cat retorted. "He was fighting- I helped him with one of those warriors!"

Firepaw pushed past her, but gave her a grateful blink. I have to stick up for myself sometimes. "I was saving a kit's life."

"It's true," Skyheart agreed, her voice thick with grief. She seemed to be one of the few affected in the same way Firepaw was- she had seen the torn body of little Mousepaw, and she was probably thinking of her future kits and how they could end up if this grew into an all-out war. "One of the kits with them died, and Firepaw carried the other one away."

"And what good does that do?" Beetlenose spat scornfully. "Those cats were named apprentices- like it or not, their Clan doesn't consider them kits, so neither do I."

Leopardfur cuffed him over the ear furiously. "Frog-brain!" She hissed. "The Warrior Code stands for a reason. That kit had no reason to die- she was forced into apprenticeship and to battle far too early, and you know it. I don't want to hear any more of this. We're going back to camp."

Firepaw shared a tired glance with Vixenpaw. Though none of them were bad off wounds-wise, Vixenpaw was sporting a long scratch across her muzzle that was starting to become crusty with dark blood.

"Fine," Beetlenose tossed his head arrogantly before whipping around and quickly heading towards the bridge.

Firepaw sighed. I just want tonight to be over.

Firepaw licked a tuft of fur on his chest clean as the Clan shared tongues and ate jovially. This was the first real victory in moons, and they were celebrating.

Vixenpaw and Grasspaw bounded up to Firepaw, both apprentices' tails twitching excitedly. "Did you hear?" Grasspaw purred. "Heavypaw's being made a warrior!"

Firepaw's ears pricked. "Really?"

"Yes!" Vixenpaw said. "He's the oldest of us and he fought really well in the battle."

Grasspaw sighed wistfully. "I'll miss that lump. He kept the den warm all night."

Vixenpaw snorted. "I'll be taking his nest- it's the best one in the den!"

Firepaw's gaze travelled across camp until he spotted Heavypaw. The young tom was grinning from ear to ear as he talked with a proud Blackclaw. "When will the ceremony be?" he asked, glancing back at Vixenpaw and Grasspaw.

Grasspaw's tail twitched. "Soon. Crookedstar wants to let us all get sleep."

Firepaw nodded. It was past moon-high by now, and he ached with exhaustion. The sooner he could collapse into his nest, the better.

They did not have to wait much longer before Crookedstar's yowl came from the Rockpile.

After all the Clan had gathered, save for Mallowtail, who was peering out from the nursery, Crookedstar began to speak.

"Clanmates," he said, "Thank you for gathering. I know it is late, and I would certainly love to get to my nest and sleep. However, there are a few things that must be done. First," Crookedstar smiled tiredly. "I want to thank and congratulate all the brave warriors who fought against ShadowClan intruders tonight. This is the first of many more victories to come."

Firepaw did not cheer with his clanmates. He could only think of the torn body of Mousepaw, of tiny Cedarpaw trembling and thinking Firepaw would kill him, and of Flintfang, arrogant and brash yet truly a scared and caring father for his son. Who else has to suffer so that we can be free of Brokenstar taking our hunting rights? Which other kits are going to die because we fought back?

Crookedstar went on after the cheers fell. "And finally, I must ask that young Heavypaw step forward- he proved himself immensely in the battle, and it is clearly time he earns his place as a full warrior of RiverClan."

Heavypaw slowly padded close to the Rockpile, still grinning in excitement.

Crookedstar looked at Blackclaw. "Blackclaw," he asked. "Has Heavypaw proved himself in your eyes capable of becoming a warrior?"

"He has," Blackclaw nodded, eyes gleaming with pride. "Heavypaw's ready."

Crookedstar nodded and brought his attention back to the apprentice. "Heavypaw, do you promise to uphold the Warrior Code and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"

Heavypaw raised his chin and nodded firmly. "I do."

"Then from this moment on, you shall be known as Heavystep. StarClan honors your dedication and fighting skill, and we welcome you as a full member of RiverClan." Crookedstar stepped down from the pile and rested his muzzle on Heavystep's head, and the newly named warrior licked his leader's shoulder in return.

The Clan burst into cheers. "Heavystep! Heavystep! Heavystep!"

Firepaw, despite his mixed feelings over the entire ordeal, threw back his head and yowled along with his clanmates this time. Even if he were grieving for young Mousepaw and conflicted on the issue of ShadowClan, it was exciting that Heavystep had completed his training, and Firepaw could find joy in that alone.

 
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