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.


22. Chapter 20

Fireheart was awoken by a rough prod to his belly. He blinked in confusion, and looked up to see Yellowfang, who stood over him. "Mrrh?" Fireheart rolled over to lay on his belly. "Am I on dawn patrol?"

Yellowfang rolled her eyes. "No, furball– I was going to ask you to come with me to Sunningrocks."

Fireheart pushed himself up to sit back on his haunches. "Right now?"

"No, sometime next moon," Yellowfang retorted, whipped around, and padded out of the warriors' den, as her thick tail swished behind her.

Fireheart rolled his eyes before he parted his jaws in a wide yawn and arched his back to stretch. "Alright, I'm coming." He was careful to step over a still-sleeping Heavystep as he left the den, and found Yellowfang waiting impatiently for him outside.

With a huff, the old she-cat headed for the camp entrance. Fireheart was quick to follow right behind her, not wanting to irritate the agitated medicine cat even more. He glanced longingly at the fresh-kill pile—breakfast would clearly have to wait.

"Which way do you want to cross?" Fireheart asked as he caught up to her.

"Let's use the Stepping Stones," Yellowfang decided. "The river is low enough, yes? My aching bones aren't up to going all the way up to the bridge."

Fireheart nodded. "We can do that." He led the way towards the rocks called the Stepping Stones, which were rocks that jutted out of the shallower part of the river that allowed cats to cross without swimming. The young warrior led the way, and jumped onto the first stone. From there, it was easy to cross without having to jump or stretch too far. The Stones were fairly large when the river was so low. As he crossed the stones, he checked over his shoulder to make sure Yellowfang was still close behind him.

"I'm fine!" The ragged she-cat hissed irritably by the third time he glanced. "Keep moving."

As they made it halfway across, Fireheart could see a band of cats heading out of the thick forest and onto Sunningrocks. Each warrior looked weary and still wounded from the battle a few days ago. Leading them was the same white tom that Fireheart had run into yesterday in ThunderClan.

When they made it to the shore, the white tom padded up to the pair and dipped his head respectfully. "Yellowfang," he meowed to greet the she-cat. "My name is Whitestorm. ThunderClan is deeply grateful for your help." He lashed his tail, and a young, sleek black tom blinked and hurried to his side. "This is Ravenpaw. We can fetch whatever herbs you need."

Yellowfang nodded curtly. "Very well. I'll need some marigold, chervil, goldenrod, oak leaves, comfrey, and as many cobwebs as you can carry. Do you know what all those look like?"

Whitestorm frowned. "All save for the chervil."

Ravenpaw raised his head. "I-I know what that looks like!" Sheepishly, he added, "Spottedleaf used that on me when I got injured in the last Sunningrocks battle."

Yellowfang looked down at the apprentice. "Good. Then be off- I don't want to be here all day. I'll check over your wounded while you're away and sort out the worst of the lot."

Whitestorm nodded and he and Ravenpaw turned about and hurried back into the forest, past their warriors. The wounded cats watched Fireheart and Yellowfang warily as they approached.

There were eight cats in total- Darkstripe, Sandpaw, and six other cats Fireheart didn't recognize. Sandpaw blinked and looked up as he approached, and Fireheart thought he saw the faintest of smiles from the shrewd she-cat. However, when he looked back, she scowled at him. Must have imagined it, he thought, frowning.

Fireheart sat and watched through narrowed eyes as Yellowfang approached the ThunderClan cats. While he didn't expect the injured cats to attack, Fireheart rationed he could never be too careful with ThunderClan. Some cats, like Lionheart and Graypaw, were friendly enough, but he wouldn't trust cats like Darkstripe or Tigerclaw even if StarClan themselves came down from the sky and told him to.

Yellowfang sniffed first at Sandpaw's wounds. The ginger she-cat looked uncomfortable with the medicine cat, and curled her lip as Yellowfang sniffed at a nasty scratch along her flank. "Go sit by Fireheart," she instructed the apprentice. "That looks a bit infected."

Sandpaw frowned and padded over by Fireheart to sit beside him. Fireheart's pelt bristled uncomfortably as she stared at her paws. After a moment, she murmured, "I never thanked you for the fresh-kill. So… thanks."

Fireheart blinked in surprise. Sandpaw's not being short for once? "Er… you're welcome."

Sandpaw said nothing else as a silver-gray she-cat and a brown tabby she-cat came to sit near them as well. The brown tabby looked curiously at Fireheart. "You're that kittypet warrior, aren't you?"

Fireheart wrinkled his nose at the question and bit back a stinging retort. "I'm a RiverClan warrior," he replied coolly, and flicked his tail.

"But you were a kittypet, yeah?" The tabby implored. "Born and bred a kittypet? Aren't you the kittypet that Thistlestar was trying to kill a few moons back?"

"He said he's a warrior, Mosstail," Sandpaw snapped, and shot the warrior an irritated look.

Mosstail stared hard at Sandpaw before she fell silent and turned her back to the pair. She made a loud huff, but she didn't seem to have it in her to bicker with the apprentice.

Surprised, Fireheart glanced at Sandpaw. "Thanks," he whispered.

"Now we're even," she shot back, and then refused to look at him. He nearly rolled his eyes in response and looked back at Yellowfang, just in time to watch her cuff Darkstripe over the ears as he refused to sit still.

By the time Yellowfang had finished checking over each warrior, Whitestorm and Ravenpaw had returned, jaws full of fresh herbs. Yellowfang nodded to them as they dropped the herbs at her paws. "Good," she said, as she nosed through them. "Everything I need is here." She turned around to scan the three cats near Fireheart. "You!" she snapped at Mosstail. "You're first."

Mosstail rose silently and headed towards Yellowfang. It was then Fireheart noticed she was limping, favoring a chewed and clawed leg. Yellowfang began to pick through the herbs and started to chew a few leaves. He watched as she spat out the poultice and applied it to the leg injury. Satisfied, the medicine cat began to wrap it with long green leaves and cobwebs.

Yellowfang looked over at Whitestorm as she finished applying the webs. "She can't fight in the battle," she told him. Mosstail frowned, but didn't verbally complain. She's disappointed, Fireheart thought. But she knows better than to fight with that wound.

Whitestorm sighed heavily. "I cannot guarantee that Thistlestar won't send her in," he said.

Yellowfang snorted in contempt. "I'm surprised he isn't on Brokenstar's side," she hissed. "What with the careless way he handles his clanmates."

Darkstripe stood, hackles rising. "Watch what you say about our leader, mange-pelt!"

Fireheart sat up a little straighter and narrowed his eyes, bracing himself to spring to her defense.

Yellowfang bristled and fixed him with a fiery glare, but before she could reply, a stocky gray tom rose from beside him and cuffed him over the ears again. "Shut up, Darkstripe," he snapped. "Yellowfang is healing our wounds. Be respectful."

Darkstripe curled his lip and spat before he stalked away towards the ferns to sit alone, ears flat.

Fireheart frowned as he observed the tom. Something about him seemed familiar. He was heavy-set, with a round face and large paws. His ears rounded slightly, and something about the way he carried himself reminded him of someone else Fireheart knew… He shook his head and pushed the wondering aside. Perhaps he's Graypaw's father? He thought curiously. I think that must be it.

"I'm sorry about his attitude," the gray warrior meowed to Yellowfang. "He's good warrior, but definitely not a diplomat."

Fireheart couldn't resist a quiet chuckle. It seemed Darkstripe's clanmates were always trying to apologize for his terrible behavior.

"Hmm." Yellowfang nodded curtly. "You're next, then." The gray tom sat obediently while Yellowfang chewed up a few leaves.

"Who's that tom?" Fireheart whispered to Sandpaw.

"The one with Yellowfang?" Sandpaw glanced at Fireheart. "He's Stonefur. One of ThunderClan's most formidable warriors." With a touch of pride, she added, "He's won many battles for ThunderClan. Stonefur's vowed to take down Brokenstar himself, so don't even bother going for him in the battle."

Fireheart blinked at the certainty in her voice. She seems so sure he's going to win if they face off. "Is he that strong?"

Sandpaw nodded. "He's one of the best."

Interesting, Fireheart thought to himself, and turned away to groom himself as Yellowfang continued on with her work. By the time she finished, the sun was high in the sky, and all the ThunderClan cats seemed a little less agitated. When Yellowfang padded to his side, Whitestorm called to them. "Thank you!" He shouted. "ThunderClan is grateful for your help."

Yellowfang glanced over her shoulder and nodded. "Yes," she replied, eyes narrowed. "But you'd best replace Spottedleaf as soon as you can. RiverClan won't always be there to help you." She flicked her tail for Fireheart to follow as she hurried towards the Stepping Stones.

Fireheart cast one last glance at the ThunderClan cats before he followed the old she-cat.

It was the day before the battle, and cats were busying themselves in RiverClan. Vixenpaw and Grasspaw had gone out with Sedgecreek and Voleclaw to practice battle moves, Yellowfang and Mudfur were hard at work prepping poultices and remedies, and Leopardfur had been sending out patrols all day to strengthen the borders and fill the fresh-kill pile.

Fireheart had been placed on sentry duty with Silverthorn, and, needless to say, he wasn't exactly thrilled about being on duty with the silver tom. Normally this was a one-cat job, but Leopardfur wanted to take every precaution in preparing today. There would be no surprises.

Silverthorn was flopped down lazily across the pebbly reedbed, ears folded as he drew his tongue over his paw. He slowly used his paw to wash his face, and Fireheart had to roll his eyes before he stared out at the river and Sunningrocks across. Of course he's concerned with his appearance now of all times.

Fireheart gritted his teeth as he heard Silverthorn start to clean his claws noisily. The tabby tom gave him an impudent look. "Is there a problem?"

Fireheart simply snorted and continued to stare straight ahead, as he ignored his companion.

Silverthorn growled and looked back at his paw. "Whatever, badger-breath."

"Skunk-stench," Fireheart muttered.

Silverthorn narrowed his eyes. "Dirtface."

"Dungface," Fireheart shot back, turning to glare at Silverthorn.

The tabby sat up. "Foxbreath!"







With the final shouted insult, the two toms were face-to-face, lips curled. Fireheart opened his jaws to spit out another crude retort, until a shaky voice interrupted them. "Ex-excuse me?"

Both turned their heads to see a sleek black tom - Ravenpaw, Fireheart realized - standing on the edge of the riverbank, wide-eyed and hesitant.

"How did we miss him?" Fireheart asked, surprised by his appearance.

"Because you're a rotten mouse-brain," Silverthorn deadpanned. "Dumber than a doormouse."

"You didn't see him either, frogspawn," Fireheart whispered, as he shouldered him roughly. He took a moment to clear his throat awkwardly, and then replied to Ravenpaw, "Hello?"

Silverthorn groaned and shoved Fireheart back, which pushed him aside. "What are you doing on RiverClan territory?" He demanded, as he lifted his tail. The silver tabby fur bristled along his spine. "Speak quickly or leave!"

Ravenpaw blinked rapidly before he swallowed and mumbled, "Er, um, I'm sorry- I just came to speak to Mudfur and Yellowfang about something. May I, please?"

Silverthorn snorted. "Why should I let you in?"

Fireheart cast him a look of annoyance. "Silverthorn," he meowed. "Shut up." He glanced back at Ravenpaw and gave him a friendly smile. "Of course you may." He stood and flicked his tail for Ravenpaw to follow him. "Distrustful crow," he hissed in Silverthorn's ear.

"You'd invite a badger in if it asked you nicely," Silverthorn whispered, tail lashing.

Fireheart flicked him with his tail, surprisingly playful rather than irritated. "Stay here," he said, as he led Ravenpaw into camp. It was fairly empty - the queens were taking Mallowtail's kits for a swim, and most cats were out of camp, leaving only Mudfur, Yellowfang, Graypool, and Heavystep in camp. The latter was stretched out lazily in a patch of sunlight, asleep. Fireheart realized that he hadn't moved since breakfast.

"Yellowfang! Mudfur!" Fireheart called, and the pair glanced up. They had been sorting a variety of herbs and flowers just outside their den. "You have a visitor."

Yellowfang peered at Ravenpaw curiously as the pair approached. "I remember you from yesterday- Ravenpaw, yes?"

Mudfur frowned. "Aren't you Tigerclaw's apprentice? What are you doing here alone?"

Ravenpaw shuffled his paws. "Y-yes, Tigerclaw's my mentor. And you see, well…"

Fireheart stared blankly at the apprentice. This trembling, shy thing was Tigerclaw's apprentice? I'd imagine any apprentice of Tigerclaw's would be fierce as a dog!

Ravenpaw finally spoke. "...I wanted to ask you- one or both of you- to train me as a medicine cat. So I can be ThunderClan's medicine cat."

Fireheart blinked. "What?"

Yellowfang gave him a look that said 'shut up', and looked back to Ravenpaw. "You're sure?" she asked, as she gazed intensely at him. "You want to give up the life of a warrior- give up hunting, fighting, and patrolling alongside your clanmates- to heal? You'll never have a mate, and your place in the Clan will be a lonely one."

Fireheart wondered if she was being a little harsh, but then remembered she was speaking from personal experience— she, too, had trained as a warrior before becoming a medicine cat.

Ravenpaw dipped his head. "I'm certain!" he mewed. "I had been trying to figure out how in StarClan's name to make it work, but when you came to help us at Sunningrocks, I thought that maybe it could work like this."

Mudfur shared a glance with Yellowfang. "My duty would be to my clanmates first, above all," he warned. "But I would be willing to dedicate time to training you. As medicine cats, we have a certain obligation to all Clans, not just our own."

Yellowfang hummed in agreement. "I agree. Under any other circumstances, I would want a medicine cat from each Clan to contribute… but seeing as WindClan is gone, and ShadowClan are our enemies, it's up to Mudfur and I."

Ravenpaw's eyes gleamed with excitement. "Thank you!" he purred. "Thank you so much!"

Mudfur narrowed his eyes. "Do Thistlestar and Tigerclaw know?"

Ravenpaw frowned. "Thistlestar does… I haven't talked to Tigerclaw about it. He'll be furious, that's for sure. But I don't think he's ever been too proud of me as an apprentice, anyway…"

Yellowfang rolled her eyes. "That Tigerclaw will never be satisfied with anything. And don't thank us too much yet— I will need to speak to Crookedstar. I don't believe he would turn you away, though."

Ravenpaw kneaded his paws happily. "Thank you anyway," he purred. "When should I meet you? Where?"

Mudfur gave Yellowfang an amused look. "The half-moon is coming up," he suggested. "Four more nights, if I recall correctly. Meet us at Fourtrees, and we'll have it figured by then."

Ravenpaw nodded and curled his tail. "I will." He gave Fireheart a smile. "And thank you, for letting me in."

Fireheart nodded. "Of course."

He led Ravenpaw back out the way they had come, where Silverthorn was still sitting, cleaning his claws.

As Fireheart passed by him, he leaned over and whispered, "For someone who teases me for being a kittypet, you sure are as fussy as one."

Silverthorn simply scowled.

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