Fire and Shadow

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


15. Chapter Fifteen

The full moon came soon and with it the next Gathering. Firefang once again was chosen to go with the ShadowClan contingent to Fourtrees. And again, WindClan's absence gave an unspoken yet oppressive atmosphere of tension.

Firefang looked around for Ravenpaw and Mistyfoot. Ravenpaw he needed to confront over what he had learned about Tigerclaw; and Mistyfoot—Firefang flicked his tail nervously. Since their initial meeting Firefang had left what spare prey he could find across the river for RiverClan to find. Mistyfoot picked up the food and brought it back to her Clan. She had even caught him at it once. Since then they had arranged planned drop-offs. With RiverClan's food supply being upset by Twolegs on their territory and with Brokenstar demanding fishing rights from the river, RiverClan was starving. Mistyfoot deeply appreciated Firefang's kindness.

The RiverClan she-cat waved her tail to get Firefang's attention. The orange tabby walked over, meowing friendly. "Mistyfoot, hello! How runs the prey?" He asked, doing his part to hide RiverClan's prey troubles.

"Swimming well thanks." She meowed back, lying as well. "How are you?"

"Well enough." Firefang nodded. "Your kits?"

Mistyfoot's chest fairly swelled with pride. "Well thank you." A bit smaller than they should be, but the Clan was making every effort to make sure that the Clan's kits had enough to eat...even if that meant the warriors had to deal with less.

Firefang purred happily for her. He had kept interested in Mistyfoot's life and managed to steal a few quick conversations as he dropped off the prey by the river. She had never talked about the kits father which left him a little curious, but out of respect he never asked.

A yowl announcing the start of the Gathering interrupted them. All eyes turned on the leaders as they stood atop the Great Rock: Brokenstar, Crookedstar, and Bluestar. At the base of the rock sat the deputies: Blackfoot, Leopardfur, and..."Tigerclaw?!" Firefang screeched in his mind. What had happened to Lionheart?

Looking around quickly, Firefang caught sight of Ravenpaw, sitting next to Graypaw. Graypaw looked sad and morose, which said to Firefang that Lionheart was probably dead. He had been Graypaw's mentor after all. And the even more miserable look on Ravenpaw's face said that he knew it was no coincidence that Tigerclaw now sat where Lionheart, and before him Redtail, had sat.

Crookedstar spoke first, reporting nothing of interest save that the prey was running well in RiverClan's territory. Firefang watched him closely. His fur had lost the sleek shine that RiverClan took such pride in and his fur hung looser on his frame than it used to.

After him, the leader of ThunderClan stepped forward; dignified and proud. "We in ThunderClan have both sad and joyful news to report." Her face took on a mournful expression, her ears flattening as she went on. "It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Lionheart." Mournful and shocked yowls rang out across the clearing. The golden warrior had been immensely popular, even outside his own Clan. Several cats not of ThunderClan bowed their heads. Bluestar continued, "On a more joyous note ThunderClan has two new warriors which we introduce tonight, including Lionheart's last apprentice. They are Graystripe and Ravenwing!"

"Graystripe! Ravenwing!" The call went up, with Firefang happily shouting his friend's new name. "Ravenwing! Ravenwing!"

Bluestar beckoned Brokenstar forward with her tail, signaling the end of her report. Brokenstar stepped forward.

"ShadowClan is pleased to report that we grow stronger, even as Leafbare approaches." He went in without preamble. "One of our warriors, Firefang, saved an apprentice by killing a venomous snake on his own before it could kill her." Impressed murmurings we heard in the clearing. Firefang looked down, feeling his face grow warm. Brokenstar, ignoring the byplay, continued on. " the last gathering I asked Bluestar, leader of ThunderClan to give ShadowClan hunting rights in their territory. She delayed answering. I ask her again, now. What will your answer be?" He growled, his voice full of menace.

Firefang only dimly noted that Brokenstar hadn't mentioned Gorsepaw being made an apprentice. On reflection it made sense. Why should Brokenstar reveal that he had abducted a kit from WindClan in the course of chasing them out of their territory? He winced, wondering now if it had been wise to mention it to Mistyfoot during their talks that he had an apprentice now.

Bluestar stepped forward and faced Brokenstar squarely, her voice and gaze even. "ThunderClan will not share its territory with any Clan." She announced firmly, answering Brokenstar and making a veiled reference to RiverClan's raids for prey.

Brokenstar hissed. "You are making a very grave mistake Bluestar." He warned.

"My Clan is capable of defending its borders." Her eyes narrowed.

"We shall see." Brokenstar leapt down from the Great Rock, announcing the end to the Gathering.

The assembled cats started to break up into their respective Clans when Firefang dashed over to Ravenwing. "We need to talk." He meowed quickly, casting a quick glance to make sure no one was paying too close attention to them. "Come back here tomorrow night." Not giving the startled warrior a chance to protest, Firefang dashed off to deliver the same message to Mistyfoot.

Something had to be done.

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