Fire and Shadow

AU. Rusty has been adopted not by ThunderClan...but ShadowClan!


8. Chapter Eight

A crescent moon hung by itself, low in the sky. It was pitch black; the clouds obscuring the stars in the sky. It was if StarClan could not bear to see what was about to come. Firepaw felt a shiver run up his spine, ruffling his fur. He wished he hadn't thought that. He was apprehensive enough as it was.

Virtually the whole of ShadowClan crept through WindClan territory, stealthily approaching their camp. Firepaw looked around: his friends and clanmates were all around him, keeping low to the ground, claws unsheathed--just ready for the fracas.

The orange tabby's fur bristled as he felt a cat brush by him. He quickly turned and found Blackfoot standing beside him, looking impatient. Without a word he tilted his head forward. They had reached the WindClan camp. The wind was blowing in their direction, carrying all the scents and sounds from the camp. Two cats were sitting vigil at the entrance: newly made warriors by the look at them.

"Just like Wetfoot." Firepaw thought with something close to despair. Blackfoot nudged him forward, clearly meaning for Firepaw to take out one of the two warriors. Clawface stood by to accompany him and attack the other.

With a gulp, Firepaw crawled up to the entrance, so low that the grass brushed against his belly fur and his face. From their scents, one of the cats was male and the other female; probably related. Firepaw approached the male, his claws unsheathed. " we go. This is for the Clan. Just don't think...act!"

Firepaw leaped claws unsheathed. The WindClan cat, caught off his guard was completely vulnerable. Just one slash of his claw...."I—I can't do it!" Firepaw yowled in his own mind as he unsheathed his claws, smashing the cat's head with his paw. The blow to the head momentarily stunned the guard. Unsheathing his claws again, Firepaw bowled into him; fighting but not intending to kill.

Mentally Firepaw knew Brokenstar would have his pelt if he let the guard raise the alarm...fortunately for Firepaw the fault for losing the element of surprise would not be his. Clawface's chosen victim managed to let a warning shriek before Clawface knocked the air out of her lungs as he bowled her over.

Running past his stunned opponent, Firepaw and the other ShadowClan cats rushed into the camp just as a trio of WindClan warriors yowling the WindClan warrior yowl. "ShadowClan!" One spat. "I can smell their stink!" Alerted, the WindClan camp came alive. Firepaw smelled scents of fear, excitement, and confusion overpowering him. Then Firepaw was thrown into the fray, with no time to survey his surroundings.

The WindClan warrior who had spoken hissed and slashed at Firepaw's head. Ducking, Firepaw latched his teeth into the warriors leg. Yowling in anger and pain, the WindClan cat bit into Firepaw's shoulder. Wincing, Firepaw let go and tried to shake him off. This only caused the mud-colored warrior to dig his teeth in deeper.

Letting out a screech, Firepaw tucked his legs beneath him and rolled over, with his attacker still hanging on and being knocked over with him. As the WindClan warrior tried to scramble back onto his paws Firepaw dug into his belly with his claws.

The WindClan warrior yowled and sprang away. Firepaw climbed to his paws and looked around. All around him cats were hissing and fighting with one another. Spying his mentor Boulder in battle with a gray tabby tom WindClan warrior with a torn ear, Firepaw raced over with his claws outstretched. He sank his claws into the WindClan cat's haunches. Distracted, Boulder slashed the cat across the side and the WindClan warrior retreated.

Boulder nodded and gasped out "Thanks!" Before leaping back into the fray. Firepaw looked around again. He saw a WindClan elder as his belly was sliced open by the claws of a ShadowClan cat. He saw a fallen WindClan apprentice lying prone on the ground beside another elder. Firepaw prayed he was merely stunned.

"This isn't a retaliatory raid..." He realized with growing horror. "This is murder!"

His thoughts were vividly brought to life as he heard an anguished cry coming from a WindClan warrior. Firepaw's head whipped around. A handsome young mottled brown tabby tom with amber eyes—probably about the same age as Firepaw—was backed up against a tall stone. His hind leg was tucked underneath him, undoubtedly injured, as he slashed against his attacked—Jaggedtooth.

The larger ShadowClan warrior had a cruel look upon his face as he slashed at the injured young warrior—toying with him as if he were a mouse. Suddenly the smirk faded as the WindClan cat managed to score a slash across Jaggedtooth's chest. With an angry growl Jaggedtooth slashed again and again, drawing blood with each blow.

"NO!" Firepaw heard some cat yowl before realizing that it was him. Almost without conscious thought he threw himself at Jaggedtooth from the side and knocked him away. The larger can't rolled over on his side. Then he got up and hissed furiously at Firepaw—who thought that Jaggedtooth would attack him.

"Clumsy fool!" Jaggedtooth spat. "Watch where you're going!" Then he turned and threw himself back into the thick of the fight, Firepaw and the WindClan warrior forgotten. Firepaw heaved a sigh of relief—Jaggedtooth thought it was an accident!

"Thank StarClan!" Firepaw trembled with relief. While part of him regretted attacking a clanmate in favor of a cat from a rival clan, a much larger part of him knew that it was the right thing to do. After quickly looking around to make sure no ShadowClan cat had witnessed the incident, Firepaw rushed over to the injured warrior. Blood from a head scratch bled down into his eye, forcing it closed. With his one open eye he glared tiredly at Firepaw. The WindClan cat aimed a claw slash at Firepaw but it was as feeble as a kit. His strength had failed him as exhaustion took root.

Leaning in Firepaw meowed softly. "Lay still...keep down and wait for this to end." The WindClan warrior's eye opened wider in confusion. Awkwardly Firepaw nodded to him. "StarClan keep you safe warrior." Then he bounded away.

The fight raged on. Here and there WindClan cats fought on bravely, but they were outnumbered and tired. One of the guards from the camp entrance—the female Clawface had attacked—had returned to the battle and was fighting with all the strength of TigerClan. The bodies of cats from both clans lined the ground; wounded or dead. Mostly WindClan but ShadowClan cats too.

Suddenly, the pressure from WindClan lessened. The remaining warriors and apprentices surrounded two surviving WindClan elders and a queen with her kit and fought their way to the edge of the clearing. The queen was the first to break through the gorse wall, her kit accompanying her. The elders were next and soon the apprentices and warriors of WindClan followed, ripping through the gorse; ignoring the scratches and blood they drew. Finally there was only one WindClan cat left: an older serious looking black and white cat with a long tail.

"This isn't the last of WindClan, Brokenstar," he spat.

"Wherever you run, I will find you." Brokenstar hissed back. With that, the WindClan leader ducked into the gorse wall and vanished. Brokenstar let out a yowl of triumph. "Victory! We have victory!"

Immediately the cry was taken up by the rest of ShadowClan. Yowls of exhiliration and victory rang out and carried across the open moor—until an anguished yowl of pain cut across it.

"NO! Brownpaw!" The cries of victory died in the throats of the ShadowClan cats as they looked around and looked at the carnage around them. Wetfoot, the one who had cried out, stood over the brown body of his friend, his ears flat and tail drooping. "Brownpaw....StarClan no...."

Stumpytail, Brownpaw's mentor, nudged him sadly. "StarClan protects him now."

Firepaw, shocked and dismayed, walked over to the fallen apprentice. Wetfoot looked up and tried to stammer out an explanation. "I-I tried to protect him...but there was this warrior and we started to fight and Oakpaw needed me—and---"

"It wasn't your fault." Firepaw lay a tail across Wetfoot's shoulders. Other ShadowClan cats bowed their heads or let out moans of sadness and mourning as they came across their clanmates.

WindClan fared the worst—two elders, a pair of apprentices, and four warriors lay dead on the ground. But ShadowClan had its loses too. Besides Brownpaw four warriors now hunted with ShadowClan as well. Firepaw looked around and thanked StarClan that Littlepaw, Whitepaw, Nightpaw and Oakpaw were all alright. He was even grateful that Rowanpaw was safe. A bit bloody but okay.

Brokenstar leaped upon a large tall stone. "ShadowClan we have won a great victory! Our dead will be mourned and buried with honors." He nodded. "But let us not lose sight of what he have won! WindClan is gone; their territory is ours! We have avenged ourselves upon WindClan. This is a victory!"

Looking on Brownpaw's body, looking even smaller in death Firepaw thought bitterly, "If this is a victory, StarClan spare me from defeat."

Jaggedtooth emerged from inside the WindClan nursery, a tiny scrap of a ginger and white kit in his mouth. Jaggedtooth approached the tall rock and deposited the kit before Brokenstar. The large leader purred. "Excellent! Since WindClan stole our kits from us, we will take this kit those callous cowards left behind and raise him as a ShadowClan warrior!"

Firepaw looked appalled. Somehow he doubted that the kit's mother had left her kit behind willingly...before he could put his thoughts into words another cat yowled his own objection.

"N-no!" The cats of ShadowClan turned to see who had spoken out. Firepaw's eyes widened. It was the young mottled tabby he had saved from Jaggedtooth earlier! He hadn't made it out with the others! "Leave Gorsekit alone!"

The cats of ShadowClan bristled and hissed, the sounds of claws being unsheathed echoed across the camp. Amused, Blackfoot snorted. "Well well....young Onewhisker is it?"

"I'll take care of this." Jaggedtooth snorted, stepping forward. "This won't take long..."

Firepaw leaped forward. "Wait! He's young and strong—why not make him a ShadowClan warrior like you did me?"

Onewhisker bristled and yowled out angrily. "Never!" A cry that was echoed by Jaggedtooth. Brokenstar, however, paused considering it.

"He may not become a loyal warrior." Brokenstar said slowly. "But he may yet be useful in exploring WindClan well as in finding the rest of his miserable clan." He nodded once to Firepaw. "An excellent suggestion." To Clawface and Jaggedtooth he snapped, "Take him back to camp. Make sure Yellowfang keeps him alive...and under guard."

Without another word, the two warriors flanked the wounded and exhausted Onewhisker on either side and closed in tight so he couldn't move. They then marched him back to the ShadowClan camp. Firepaw watched him go, a sinking feeling in his stomach.

A rumble from Brokenstar caused Firepaw to look back up at his leader. "You have fought bravely today Firepaw. Such bravery deserves to be rewarded." The long-haired tabby tom scanned the assembled cats below. "Boulder." The gray warrior looked up at his leader's call. "Are you satisfied that this apprentice is ready to become a warrior?"

Boulder let his mouth hang open in surprise—Firepaw had only been an apprentice for a short while. Not long enough to become a proper warrior! Of course, given Brokenstar's policy regarding kits becoming apprentices...Brokenstar's whisker twitched in annoyance. It was clear he was only going to accept one answer from Boulder.

"Yes, he is ready." Boulder meowed.

Looking content, Brokenstar nodded before looking back to the cats below him. "I, Brokenstar, leader of ShadowClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down upon this apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend him a warrior in his turn." He looked down on Firepaw. "Firepaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code, and protect and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"

Firepaw, who was as stunned as Boulder—and as unsure of his readiness—took a moment before finally nodding. "I do."

"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Firepaw, from this moment on you shall be known as....Firefang." Firepaw winced at the choice of name, thankfully Brokenstar failed to notice it and went on. "The Clan honors you for your loyalty and courage, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ShadowClan."

Brokenstar leaped down so he could rest his muzzle on the new warrior. Firepaw—Firefang—dutifully licked his shoulder. The clan, after a brief hesitation, started to call out the new warrior's name. "Firefang! Firefang!"

Even as he stood, hearing the acclimations of his clanmates on his warrior status, 'Firefang' wished he was still Firepaw...or for that matter, even Rusty!

The leader of ShadowClan leaped back upon the tall stone to revel in his clan's victory. Not even noticing, or caring, Firefang noted bitterly; the wounded and dead still laying where they had fallen.

As he looked up on the arrogant, uncaring look upon his leader's face Firefang could only think one thing; unsure of where it came from:

"Evil must be opposed."

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