Fire and Shadow

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


11. Chapter Eleven

ShadowClan made their way to Four Trees for the night's Gathering. Firefang's eyes widened as he saw the four giant old oaks that ringed the clearing where the Clans met. "This is the place from my dream!" He realized with a start. Looking around he saw cats from RiverClan. ThunderClan clearly hadn't arrived yet. "And WindClan can't." He suppressed the pang of guilt. It wouldn't do to have the others see.

As the ShadowClan cats went off to mingle with the RiverClan counterparts, Firefang followed Wetfoot. He didn't know any RiverClan cats himself and felt it best to stay close to his friend...he had been taking Brownpaw's death pretty hard.

Firefang scented a RiverClan she-cat coming up to them. He turned to see a silver tabby she-cat padding up to them. Her blue eyes watching them both. "Hey Wetpaw."

With a certain degree of well-earned self-importance Wetfoot corrected her. "Hello Mistyfoot...and that's Wetfoot now."

"Copycat." The RiverClan warrior flicked her tail. "But congratulations! Warrior at last huh? And who's this?"

Nodding to his orange companion, Wetfoot meowed. "This is Firefang. He's a warrior too!"

"Awfully young though..." Mistyfoot murmured, her eyes studying him. "So you're the infamous kittypet ShadowClan adopted? Good to meet you Firefang." Had her words been in another tone of voice, Firefang would've bristled. As it was...all he did was nod respectfully.

"You too Mistyfoot. I trust the prey is running—or rather, swimming—well?" He asked politely.

"It is." She mewed. Then she turned her head. "I should go speak to my brother before the meeting starts. Good seeing you both." She turned and walked away.

Wetfoot waited until she was out of hearing distance before he nudged Firefang. "Pretty good looking for a RiverClan she-cat. Not as bulky and doesn't reek so much of fish, eh?" Firefang snorted.

"StarClan you are a--" His ears stood up as he scented something. He opened his mouth to get a better idea of the scent..."ThunderClan is here."

Almost as soon as he had said it, the ThunderClan contingent arrived in the clearing. Wetfoot nodded. "Let's go make sure they don't pump the apprentices for information." He flicked his tail. "Blackfoot's orders."

Firefang nodded. The two warriors walked up to the tiny, underage apprentice Littlepaw just as a pair of ThunderClan apprentices—one gray and one black—approached him. With a surprised hiss, Firefang recognized the scent of the black tom.

"Ravenpaw?" Firefang padded over. The black cat looked up in surprise.

"It can't be!" He meowed in shock. "Rusty, is that you? What are you doing here?"

Licking his paw, Firefang purred. "I'm Firefang now—Warrior of ShadowClan."

"They made a kittypet into a warrior?" The gray apprentice gaped in shock, looking to Ravenpaw. Firefang snorted. He had heard ThunderClan cats took a while to figure out the obvious.

Ravenpaw looked from Firefang to Graypaw.. "He's tougher than he looks." He mumbled to Graypaw under his breath. Louder to Firefang, he said. "Look, I should warn you...Tigerclaw is here."

Firefang put on his best 'ShadowClan face,' his nickname for the impassive, slightly arrogant expression that ShadowClan warriors had turned into a virtual art form. "Who?" He mewed curiously, knowing perfectly well who he meant.

Lashing his tail in annoyance, Ravenpaw answered quickly. "You know who I mean!" He hissed. "And I can tell you he never forgets a scent—but he may forget the truce!"

"Somehow I doubt that even Tigerclaw is that hot tempered." A even voice meowed. The young cats turned as a golden tabby strode up to them.

Wetfoot nudged Firefang. "Lionheart." He meowed softly.

Firefang had to fight not to show his amazement. Everything from his kind voice to his brilliant fur...Lionheart seemed like Brokenstar turned inside out. Even his ThunderClan scent failed to annoy Firefang...much. "While my clanmate can be...a bit tempermental, he is not one to violate the StarClan's truce." He regarded Firefang intently for a moment. "I had heard that ShadowClan had started welcoming cats into their Clan from outside the Clans." He meowed.

Dipping his head in acknowledgment Firefang replied, "Only those who are able to be loyal to their Clan and the Warrior's Code." He said evenly, matching Lionheart's gaze.

Lionheart nodded. "You are young...but you seem a credit to your Clan." He stretched. "If you'll excuse me, I mean to talk to the other deputies. StarClan keep you safe."

Wetfoot and Firefang returned the compliment. Firefang couldn't help but notice that Lionheart took a detour to speak with Tigerclaw...or that Ravenpaw had flinched when Lionheart mentioned the deputies.

"So, Lionheart is your deputy?" Firefang asked in what he hoped was a neutrally curious question, watching Ravenpaw intently. Again, the black apprentice couldn't repress a flinch. Graypaw missed the byplay and nodded.

"That's right." He meowed proudly. "He's my mentor. He's been the ThunderClan deputy ever since Redtail was killed by Oakheart when we retook the SunningRocks."

Again Firefang noted Ravenpaw looking very uncomfortable for some reason. He noted it, but before he could say anything his fur started to stand on end as a familiar scent approached.

"So," Hissed an angry voice. "It's true. The kittypet is a ShadowClan warrior."

Firefang mustered all his ShadowClan training—to never reveal what you were truly thinking or feeling. "Never show fear." He remembered Boulder instructing him. "Never show doubt, sadness, pity or anger...unless you need to intimidate an opponent. Control your reactions and control your foe's and victory will be yours."

Turning around slowly Firefang faced the bristling ThunderClan warrior. "Tigerclaw." He mewed, his voice flat with anger.

"Is ShadowClan so weak that they think a kittypet will strengthen it?" He spat.

"Considering that ShadowClan has never been beaten on its own territory, I would think that it is ThunderClan that needs strengthening." Firefang replied.

Tigerclaw's eye glinted dangerously and Graypaw hissed. "Why you arrogant—!"

"Enough!" A new voice interrupted. A blue-gray tabby she-cat with a tinge of silver lining her muzzle and piercing blue eyes, stepped forward.

"Bluestar." Ravenpaw meowed half greeting, half introduction for Firefang's benefit. Firefang blinked. Despite being smaller and less physically imposing than Brokenstar, Firefang couldn't help but admire her confident poise. She was strong, clearly intelligent capable...this was a leader!

Waving her tail for silence she looked at Tigerclaw and her apprentices. "This is not the night for such talk." She mewed firmly, looking back from her Clanmates to the ShadowClan cats.

"This isn't over." Tigerclan hissed at Firefang before stalking off.

Bluestar watched him go, then turned to Firefang. "I'm afraid you've made yourself an enemy."

"He made himself my enemy long before this." The orange tabby lashed his tail angrily. "And I his."

"Perhaps." She conceded. "Ravenpaw had told me what happened on that patrol. I would not have taken such a...heavy pawed approach with your trespassing." She allowed.

"I see you've met young Firefang." Yellowfang purred as she approached, Boulder standing beside her.

Boulder nodded. "My former apprentice." He stressed with—was that pride?

"Boulder. Yellowfang." Bluestar nodded. "He is a credit to your Clan. Had I known, I would have invited him to join my Clan."

Yellowfang's face curled in a smile. "Him, a ThunderClan cat? Not likely. He's like me...ShadowClan to the bones." Boulder nodded in approval.

Firefang nodded. "I'm flattered..." and he found that he was. "...But ShadowClan is my Clan. And what sort of warrior would I be if I abandoned it? Not a warrior you would want, I think."

"A pity." Bluestar purred softly. "I must go. The Gathering is about to start. Firefang." She nodded respectfully, then walked off.

Ravenpaw and Graypaw looked at Firefang in something close to amazement. "...Wow." Graypaw meowed. "I can't believe Bluestar would want to let a kittypet into ThunderClan!" He looked at Firefang again, as if trying to see what his leader saw in him. Ravenpaw gave Firefang an encouraging smile, though occasionally glancing to make sure Tigerclaw wasn't looking.

Firefang wanted to ask Ravenpaw about his early skittishness...but then a yowl came from the Great Rock announcing the start of the Gathering. Brokenstar and the leaders of RiverClan and ThunderClan stood atop the Great Rock.

"We can't start yet!" A cat yowled. "Where are the WindClan representatives? We must wait until all the Clans are present." Firefang fought to keep his face steady. WindClan wouldn't be coming if they waited for a dozen moons.

The ThunderClan leader stepped forward. "Cats of all Clans, welcome." She mewed. "It is true that WindClan is not present, but Brokenstar wishes to speak anyway." With a nod, the ShadowClan leader walked up.

"Friends, I come to speak to you tonight about the needs of ShadowClan--" He had barely begun before yowls from the cats in the clearing interrupted him.

"Where is Tallstar?"

"Where are the WindClan warriors?"

Brokenstar did not take kindly to being interrupted. His claws scratched the Great Rock. "As the leader of ShadowClan, it is my right to address you here!" Having intimidated the cats into silence, Brokenstar continued. "We all know that the hard time of leaf-bare, and late newleaf, have left us with little prey in our hunting grounds. But we also know that WindClan, RiverClan, and ThunderClan lost many kits in the freezing weather that came so late this season. ShadowClan did not lost kits. We are hardened to the cold north wind. Our kits are stronger than your from the moment they are born. And so we find ourselves with many mouths to feed, and too little prey to feed them."

"The needs of ShadowClan are simple. In order to survive, we must increase our hunting territory. That is why I insist that you allow ShadowClan warriors to hunt in your territories."

"That's a lie!" Firefang yowled angrily, forgetting where he was. It was only the outrage of the other cats around him that prevented his Clanmates from hearing his outburst. Silently fuming, Firefang went on in his mind. "What about Blossomkit? What about the others? We have lost kits and we have lost Clanmates in the attack on WindClan AND we stole their territory!"

"Share our hunting grounds?" TigerClaw growled angrily.

"It is unprecedented! The Clans have never shared hunting rights!" Another cat yowled.

"Should ShadowClan be punished because our kits thrive? Do you want us to watch our young starve?" Brokenstar yowled back. "You must share what you have with us!"

"Must!" A ThunderClan elder hissed.

"Must." The ShadowClan leader confirmed. "WindClan failed to understand this. In the end, we were forced to drive them out of their territory. And, if we have to, we will drive you all from your hunting grounds in order to feed our hungry kits." Firefang was horrified. Before Brokenstar had said that WindClan had murdered those three ShadowClan kits and Raggedstar...but now he didn't say a word about it. If Firefang needed any further proof that Brokenstar's dishonesty, that was it.

"Each year, the Twolegs spoil more of our territory. At least one Clan must remain strong, if all the Clans are to survive. ShadowClan thrives while you all struggle. And there may come a time when you will need our strength to protect you."

"You doubt our strength?" Tigerclaw hissed furiously.

"I do not ask for your answer now." Brokenstar said, oh so moderately. "You must each go away and consider my words. But bear this in mind: would you prefer to share your prey, or by driven out and left homeless and starving?"

A pregnant pause hung in the clearing...then the RiverClan leader, a cat with a crooked jaw stepped forward on the Great Rock. "I have already agreed to allow ShadowClan some hunting rights in the river that runs through our territory." He mewed, to howls of outrage from his own clan. "I feel that this is best for our Clan. For all the Clans. There are plenty of fish in the river. It is better to share our prey than to spill blood fighting over it?"

"And what of ThunderClan? Bluestar? Have you, too, agreed to this outrageous demand?" A ThunderClan cat yowled.

Her blue eyes steeled, Bluestar meowed simply. "I have made no agreement with Brokenstar except hat I shall discuss his proposal with my Clan after the Gathering."

"Yes!" Firefang cheered silently. At least one Clan was standing up to Brokenstar! The Gathering broke up soon afterwards, with the Clans returning to their own territories.

As the Clans went their seperate ways, Firefang looked over to Ravenpaw just in time to see the black apprentice look back his way. Ravenpaw looked at him seriously, as if he was trying to find a way to say something but couldn't. Then his ears flattened and he hurried off as Tigerclaw growled at him.

Firefang turned back to his own Clan. He hurried up to catch Yellowfang while Brokenstar was busy conversing with Blackfoot. "What was this about a plan?"

Yellowfang nodded. "Tonight I'm going to go to the Moonstone. I'll ask Brokenstar to let you come with me."

"But what—" But Yellowfang held up her tail for silence and made her way forward. Firefang, puzzled, could only wait to see what the medicine cat had in mind.

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