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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17. Chapter 15

Early morning sunshine warmed Firepaw's back as he padded towards the medicine cat's den, a plump pigeon in his jaws. He ducked inside the reed-woven den and nodded to Mudfur and Yellowfang, who were each grooming themselves.

"Mm, paying tribute to your elders, eh?" Yellowfang sniffed at the bird as Firepaw dropped his catch at her paws. "It's been awhile since you've come to see me."

Firepaw frowned. "Sorry, I know. There's just been so much going on."

Mudfur snorted. "You're telling me. I've been treating scratches every day."

It had been a quarter moon since the initial fight with ShadowClan, and as promised, Crookedstar was sending patrols out to WindClan land to hunt and challenge ShadowClan patrols there. The first few fights had been bloody- no lives lost, but Loudbelly had been resting a few days due to a nasty stomach wound- but now both sides were becoming more cautious. Depending on who was leading patrols, sometimes both patrols would simply glare from a distance and skirt around one another, but at other times RiverClan would charge ShadowClan patrols and send them away from the area with only a few blows. Of course, not every battle was won- just this morning, Dawnbright's patrol had returned empty-handed and roughed-up.

Yellowfang shook her head. "I'm telling you, Crookedstar needs to act sooner or later. We can't fight this way forever."

Firepaw nodded quietly. I understand he wants us to train first, but we've been training for three moons… Or at least I have. Everyone else has probably trained longer. I bet Graypaw has already seen loads of battles. What if ShadowClan decides to attack us first?

"Mudfur! Mudfur!"

Firepaw glanced over his shoulder to see Sparrowkit, one of Mallowtail's daughters, limping into the medicine cats' den. "Mudfur, I gotta thing stuck in my paw."

Mudfur smiled gently at the young kit and padded towards her. "Where is it?"

Sparrowkit sat back on her haunches and held up a paw. "It hurts," she complained.

Firepaw leaned close to see what had hurt her. It looked like a fragment of those twoleg ice things that never melted– Glass, he reminded himself. It was odd, in a sense, being in RiverClan- he found himself occasionally forgetting words and scents that had once been quite familiar to him.

"Hmm," Mudfur hummed as he sat down to inspect the paw. "This might hurt, because I've got to pull it out with my teeth. Can you be a big kit for me and hold it very still?"

Sparrowkit nodded very seriously, and with a determined look, she stuck out her paw again and closed her eyes tight. Firepaw watched as Mudfur quickly nipped at her paw. Sparrowkit let out a little yelp of pain and jerked back as Mudfur pulled the shard of glass from her paw. He spat it out and sat back. "Now give it a good lick, and you should be fine. Just don't play by the shore until we get it cleaned up."

"Thank you!" Sparrowkit chirped before licking her paw. "Ouch."

"Don't worry about it," Mudfur comforted the kit. "But if it isn't starting to feel better tomorrow, come see me again."

"Okay!" Sparrowkit quickly hopped to her paws and hurried back outside. Firepaw let out a purr of amusement as he heard her announce, "Stormkit! I'm not gonna die! Now you owe me a minnow!"

Mudfur chuckled. "They'll be a pawful when they're apprentices, that's for sure."

"They're a pawful now," Yellowfang sniffed. She had turned away and was eating the pigeon quietly. She had a faraway look in her eyes- the same look she got whenever she had to interact with kits.

Firepaw frowned as he looked at the old she-cat- but Mudfur quickly spoke to him again, interrupting any thoughts about Yellowfang.

"Now, Firepaw," he said. "Run along and tell Leopardfur that Sparrowkit got twoleg rubbish in her paw and that a patrol needs to clear away anything else on the riverbank. I don't want to be treating cut paws as well as battle wounds every day."

Firepaw nodded quickly. "Of course." He turned away and headed out, glad to be away from Yellowfang's odd mood and the choking scents of herbs.

Firepaw gingerly picked up another green share of glass and carried over to his small pile. He then turned away and scanned the sand for more.

"Ooh," Sedgecreek cooed, pawing at a smooth blue piece. "I'm saving this to weave into the den. Look how shimmery it is!"

"found this pretty shell!" Mosspaw boasted, sitting beside a pinkish shell that had a shiny, almost reflective interior. "I love when we clean up the sand- there's always so much to find!"

Firepaw chuckled quietly as he spotted a scrap of some twoleg metal. Part of what he loved about RiverClan was their appreciation and love of beautiful things. They frequently would ooh and ah over shiny bits or colorful shells before they wove them into their dens. At sunhigh, when the camp was sunniest, the little treasures would reflect tiny waves of light across camp, and kits would chase them as the wind shifted them about. Firepaw had always been fascinated with odd finds or shiny treasures, but he'd felt awkward about pointing out things on the shore until he learned most RiverClanners enjoyed finds just as much, if not more.

"The rain must've washed all of this up," Reedtail mused, pushing a slimy piece of rubbish towards his pile.

It has rained a few days ago, despite the warm sun today. Firepaw nodded in agreement. "That would make sense."

Loudbelly frowned and stared out across the river. "Should some of us head to Sunningrocks? There might be some there."

Shadepaw swiped her tongue across her lips. "There might be prey, too."

Reedtail nodded. "I don't see why not. Anyone want to?"

Firepaw pricked his ears. "I can!"

"I'll go too," Shadepaw offered.

Silverstream nudged Heavystep. "Why don't we go as well?"

The young warrior nodded, seeming not to care much either way. "Alright."

Together the four cats splashed into the river. Firepaw struck out into deeper waters, relishing the cool flow against his warm pelt. He stretched out his legs and stroked evenly as he swam. The young tom was growing bigger and stronger– over the past three moons, he'd grown taller, more muscular. His pelt was silky like his clanmates' from his diet and RiverClan's way of life, and he no longer struggled in the water.

When he reached the solid ground beneath his paws, Firepaw trudged up to the dry shore and shook out his pelt.

Shadepaw sniffed the air before she narrowed her eyes and padded forward. "Something isn't right," she hissed.

"Hmm?" Firepaw glanced at her in confusion. What's the matter? He parted his jaws to taste the air, stepping forward to do so. All I can smell is…

Firepaw's eyes widened as a screech ripped through the air.

"ThunderClan, attack!"

Four cats burst from the undergrowth at the edge of the Sunningrocks and charged forward. A sandy-colored she-cat leaped for him, and taking him by surprise, bowled him over. Firepaw cried out in pain as his shoulder collided sharply with one of the stones.

He heard Silverstream yowl in surprise as the she-cat dug her claws into his chest. "Firepaw! Shadepaw!" He could hear her splashing out of the water and Heavystep's paws thudding against the ground as he ran to their defense.

Firepaw brought his attention back to his attacker. He swallowed as he recognized her- "Sandpaw?"

"Shut up, kittypet!" She hissed, hitting him in the face with a paw. He was surprised to find that her claws were sheathed as they did so.

Sandpaw leaned in close to his ear and snarled, low and quiet: "Give up. I don't want to kill you, but if you don't retreat, I won't have a choice. We have to win Sunningrocks."

Firepaw growled and twisted his body sharply beneath her. "Never!" He spat, as she stumbled off with a yelp. Rather than leap to his paws, he rolled all the way to his side and lashed out with his powerful hind legs, kicking them into one of her hind legs and sweeping it out from under her.

"Fish-face!" She hissed as she hit the ground. Before Firepaw could attack, she had rolled smoothly out of the fall and was crouching low in a defensive position.

Firepaw used the opportunity to scan his surroundings. Graypaw was fighting with Shadepaw, but he was finding it a difficult task. Every time he swiped, she would feint to the side and lightly claw a shoulder. Then the bewildered apprentice would whip about and try again, only to be met with the same response.

Silverstream was knocking down a black apprentice, who's yellow eyes were rounded with fear as he hardly tried to fight back.

Heavystep was yowling and clawing at a dark tabby tom apprentice who had his teeth digging into Heavystep's tail like a huge tick.

Firepaw's gaze travelled to the edge of Sunningrocks, where what he saw made his blood run cold.

Tigerclaw, that massive, terrifying tabby deputy, was sitting peacefully at the very edge of the forest, thick tail slowly sweeping over fallen leaves as he watched with interest.

Firepaw felt rage spark within him. He's testing them! The minnow-heart is just watching us all fight!

Firepaw screeched as Sandpaw hit him like a wild animal, clawing and spitting. Firepaw felt claws tear down his already throbbing shoulder and into his cheek before he stumbled back, shaking droplets of blood from his face.

Sandpaw never relented. She danced forward as he tried to step back, continuing to swipe. Sometimes she missed, but more often than not he claws would rake his chest or muzzle.

Firepaw tried to think as he ducked a blow. She fights like Shadepaw. Pain seared through his shoulder as he stepped too hard on it. Sandpaw was leaning off the leg he'd hit when he had retaliated. We're both favoring a leg. He hissed as she struck his other shoulder and stepped back again. How do you surprise Shadepaw? She's never expecting you to rear up and strike back… but ThunderClan are more nimble on the ground. What if…

When Sandpaw next struck out with unsheathed claws, Firepaw surged forward, chin tucked. He couldn't see her eyes, but he imagined them widening in surprise as his skull rammed into her, clipping her jaw painfully as he then twisted upwards and sank his teeth into her neck. Careful not to not hard enough to tear her throat, he surged forward and shoved her off her paws, throwing her to the scattered rocks. Sandpaw fell with a pained screech.

Firepaw turned to glare at Tigerclaw. It took the deputy a moment to notice the apprentice staring at him, but when he did, he started slightly. Firepaw continued to glare, curling his lip hatefully at the tabby who he could assume was forcing these apprentices to fight them as some sick test. "You're a coward!" He shouted, digging his claws into the small stones. "Just a big, lousy coward!"

Firepaw's eyes widened as the massive tom slowly rose to all fours, gazing calmly at Firepaw. He strode forward slowly, as if calculating where to place each of his huge paws. Firepaw stood still in place, gulping as the deputy casually approached him.

"I would advise you well to never challenge me that way again, kittypet," Tigerclaw rumbled, looking down at Firepaw like he was a mere pest. The apprentice was very aware of Sandpaw's gaze on him. She's trembling. Why is she afraid?

Firepaw forced himself to stare right back, keeping his fur flat. "Maybe you should make me instead of forcing your apprentices to do it for you."

Instead of snarling, Firepaw was surprised as Tigerclaw threw his head back and let out a deep, throaty laugh. "What impudence!" he guffawed. "I would never see such back talk from my apprentices. My current one is more skittish than a mouse. I must ask Leopardfur how she gets such cheeky apprentices. I suppose they do reflect her… frustrating ways as well."

Firepaw frowned. What was that supposed to mean? Do Leopardfur and Tigerclaw know each other? He shook the thought aside. They're deputies of rival Clans! Of course he dislikes her.

Tigerclaw glanced casually away, scanning the battlefield with such a look of apathy that Firepaw wondered for a heartbeat whether or not he cared what happened to the four apprentices. "Hmm. It seems I misjudged how many RiverClan cats would be here. Nonetheless," his stare shifted down to Sandpaw. "You should have adapted. It is needless to say that you each have failed. Get back to camp."

Sandpaw finally stood, and with one final look at Firepaw, turned tail and leaped away, racing back into the ferns and bracken where she had come from.

Tigerclaw flicked his tail nonchalantly. "Farewell, kittypet. I certainly do hope we will meet again soon." He stepped back and let out a yowl, tossing his head once more before the massive deputy backed away and turned into the undergrowth, back towards ThunderClan.

Graypaw and the other two apprentices' heads shot up, and with a few struggles and scrabbles they were at their paws and racing away into the forest.

Firepaw panted heavily as he stared at the stilling ferns. He could have killed me right there, Firepaw thought. How was he so calm?

He flinched painfully as he stepped closer to the rest of his clanmates. His shoulder throbbed with pain, and Sandpaw's scratches stung terribly.

Reedtail flicked his tail furiously. "Come on. We need to report this to Crookedstar immediately. The nature of this fight was…"

"Out of ordinary?" Silverstream suggested, wrinkling her nose. Her pink nose had been sliced open and was wet with blood. "I've never seen a group of all-apprentices like that."

Firepaw felt an uncomfortable knot of dread twisting in his belly. First we have ShadowClan to deal with, but now ThunderClan? It was bad enough before, but if both Clans are against us… does RiverClan stand a chance?

 
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