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.


8. Chapter 6

Early morning sunshine fell upon the river, casting glimmers of light across Sunningrocks. Firepaw padded confidently into the river, slipping in with the ease of an otter. Two moons of training had now past, and Firepaw was already shaping up to be a fine apprentice. Training lended to newer, stronger muscles, and made Firepaw a more confident cat. His pelt was now sleek and smooth just like his clanmates', and he could swim across the river with ease.

He smiled to himself as he paddled across the cool river. This was his first solo mission as an apprentice, and he was determined to do well. Even if it was simply finding fresh-kill among Sunningrocks and renewing the borders, Firepaw was going to put all of his effort into it. And with Greenleaf finally fully in swing, prey would surely be easy to find.

Firepaw climbed out of the river, pausing a moment to shake his pelt. He parted his jaws slightly to taste the air. He could smell a vole, and a moment later, he heard it scuffling among the rocks closer to the treeline. He dropped into a crouch, Dawnbright's words echoing in his head. Keep those paws tucked tight, Firepaw- you don't want to look like a four-legged duck!

Firepaw took a quiet step forward, careful to step on the flatter rocks that wouldn't make much noise beneath his paws. The vole remained where it was. It hadn't noticed it's hunter approaching.


The vole's head shot up and it darted out of sight as bushes along the treeline rustled. Firepaw's eyes widened before he ducked behind one of the larger boulders, pelt bristling. A large gray shape was moving along the edge of Sunningrocks- Graypaw!

The bulky tom, like Firepaw, was filling in. He seemed to have grown since the last time Firepaw had seen him. Graypaw was sniffing around the beginning of the stones, oblivious to Firepaw's presence. The fish-brain can't even tell I'm here! After another moment, Firepaw dropped back into a crouch. Graypaw's an intruder! It's my job to chase him off! When the gray apprentice turned his back, facing the trees, Firepaw burst out from behind the boulder, growling as he charged towards the tom. As Graypaw turned, Firepaw leaped, paws extended, and crashed into Graypaw, knocking him off his paws.

"Ooof!" Graypaw wheezed as he crashed to the ground, clearly surprised. "Get off me!"

"Intruder!" Firepaw growled. "You're trespassing, fox-heart!"

Graypaw looked up at Firepaw, before blinking. "Kittypet? What are you doing here? This is still ThunderClan land, y'know! You were lucky to get away from Thistlestar when you did-"

"I'm a RiverClan apprenttice!" Firepaw growled, keeping Graypaw pinned beneath his paws. Yet, the tom didn't seem to be struggling. "And Sunningrocks belongs to us!"

Graypaw snorted. "It's my mission to reset the borders! Your lazy clan doesn't even patrol here this early!"

Firepaw let out a growl, digging his claws into Graypaw's shoulder. The gray tom hissed before complaining, "Can't we just talk this out? StarClan, you weigh too much!"

Eyes narrowed, Firepaw let the tom up, but kept his claws unsheathed. "You're going to leave," he ordered. "This is RiverClan land, and you're trespassing."

Graypaw rolled his eyes. "Let's call it a tie. We both go home and no one marks the border."

"No way!" Firepaw snorted. "I can't fail my first mission, let alone give Sunningrocks to ThunderClan!"

Graypaw was quiet before he shrugged and turned around. "Alright, but don't say I didn't warn you. You could have avoided a battle before, but now Thistestar is sure to bring one." As he turned away, he glanced over his shoulder. "Anyway, what's your name, kittypet?"

Firepaw was both surprised and a little off-put by how Graypaw just gave up. He seems so certain that Thistlestar will win, he thought. "Firepaw," he finally answered.

"Well, good luck, Firepaw," Graypaw called as he headed away. "I'd hate you see you get hurt again by Thistlestar. Honestly."

Firepaw swallowed as memories of Thistlestar's leering face appeared in his mind, snarling as he tore Firepaw to shreds. He shook it away, and after waiting a few moments to see that Graypaw had left, he turned away. There's not going to be any hunting here, he thought, a little bitterly. I guess I could just try along the river.

Suddenly, a loud screech stopped him. Graypaw! Firepaw whirled around to see the gray apprentice racing towards him. Firepaw arched his back, preparing to fight again. Back for more already, huh?

But then he saw the look of fear in Graypaw's wide eyes as the tom raced back towards Sunningrocks. "Fox!" He yowled, trying to scramble up a rock.

A heartbeat later, a lithe russet beast burst from the undergrowth, snarling with hunger. It had a thin, long white muzzle, and a thick, furry tail. It almost looked like some sort of wild dog. Firepaw's eyes widened as the thing set it's sights upon him.

"Firepaw!" Graypaw cried. "Run!"

Firepaw wanted to, he really did, but he stood frozen with silent fear. Then the fox was upon him, snapping at his face. Suddenly, something snapped inside of Firepaw, and he lashed out, catching the fox across the muzzle. Blood splurted from its clawed nose, and the fox recoiled for a moment, yiping in pain and surprise as its prey fought back.

Firepaw swung again, clawing one of the russet ears. The fox snarled, snapping at Firepaw and burying its fangs in his shoulder. Firepaw howled as hot pain seared up his shoulder, trying to pull away.

"Get away from him, crowfood-eater!" Graypaw suddenly leaped down to join him, clawing at the fox's tail until it released Firepaw, whirling around to face its new attacker.

Despite the pain in his shoulder, Firepaw snarled and delivered another blow along the fox's other side. Confused, the fox tried to turn again to snap at Firepaw. Again and again the apprentices struck, falling into a smooth rhythm, matching blow for blow as they pushed the fox back. Finally, the russet-furred creature let out one last pained whine before whipping around and fleeing into the forest.

The pair of apprentices panted for a few long moments before exchanging a glance. "You okay?" Graypaw asked, eyeing Firepaw's bleeding shoulder.

Firepaw turned his head to give the shoulder a lick and winced. "It hurts, that's for sure. Mudfur can fix it, I think."

Graypaw frowned. "You'd better get back quickly. Spottedleaf says fox bites can turn sour quickly if they aren't treated."

"Spottedleaf?" Firepaw echoed. "Is she your medicine cat?"

Graypaw nodded, before sighing, letting his shoulders sag. "Okay, I'm really going home. I won't mark the border or anything." He paused, uncertain, before adding, "You know, you fight well for a kittypet."

"That's because I'm not a kittypet," Firepaw retorted. "I'm an apprentice of RiverClan."

Graypaw nodded. "I guess that's true. It's a shame you couldn't have trained in my clan- you'd be better off with us." He turned around and padded slowly towards his territory. "Bye, Firepaw."

For a moment, Firepaw wondered what life would be like if he were in ThunderClan- Would the elders be as wise as Graypool? Would the queens be as kind as Mallowtail? Would there be more or less arrogant furrballs who taunted him?

He shook his head. I'm a warrior apprentice of RiverClan, and I'm happy with that. Firepaw winced as he padded back towards the river. I really hope Mudfur can fix this- it stings worse than Thistlestar's claws!

As he stared out across the river, Firepaw hesitated. It would be easier to cross the Twoleg bridge at this point. He felt far too exhausted to jump in the river, and he didn't quite feel like risking slipping on the Stepping Stones. The water was just a smidgen higher than usual, as they had some rainy days just a few days ago.

Firepaw stepped along the riverbank, feeling the cool, damp sand squelch under his paws. Better stick to the riverbank in case another patrol comes out here.

He reached the large stone bridge without trouble, but still felt his shoulders sag with relief as he crossed the bridge, safe again on RiverClan land. It was odd- the bridge felt foreign beneath his paws, despite walking over similar surfaces when he had lived as a kittypet only two moons ago. The soft grasses and damp earth of RiverClan felt so much more familiar and comfortable to his paws.

As he stepped off the bridge, and back onto firm ground, Firepaw jumped as he heard a wild shriek erupt from across the bridge.

"Intruder! Intruder!"

"Get off of ThunderClan territory, fleabag!"

Firepaw whirled around, bristling. He had just faced a fox; would he really have to escape a ferocious ThunderClan patrol, too?

No- it seemed it was it he they were pursuing. It looked like four seasoned warriors were streaking after something- or someone.

In fact, that someone was a large gray cat, who was racing straight for him.

And she looked just about ready to flay him to bits.

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