Fire and Shadow

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


7. Chapter Seven

Over the next two days, ShadowClan was whipped up into a war craze. Battle training was increased, claws were sharpened and two kits were made into apprentices; Nightpaw, a pretty black she-cat, was assigned to Darkflower and Oakpaw, a small brown tom, was assigned to Wetfoot.

Firepaw's friend was ecstatic. "My first real battle as a warrior and my first apprentice!" He purred excitedly to him and the other apprentices one night. "I can't wait!"

Brownpaw lowered his head, his ears flattening. " gonna be pretty big, isn't it? The battle, I mean..."

Wetfoot draped his tail around Brownpaw's shoulders. "It'll be okay. I'll watch your tail. Just wait, I bet you get made a warrior after the fight!" He looked over at Firepaw. "You seem pretty silent. You nervous too?"

Firepaw shook his head. "No. Well, yes I am--but that's not what's bothering me." He dug his claws into the ground. "Are we doing the right thing?" Seeing the confused or incredulous looks on Wetfoot and the other apprentices, he quickly meowed. "Do we even know that WindClan killed those apprentices? Or Raggedstar? Did anyone scent them on our territory? There was those foxes we fought, they could've—"

Rowanpaw sneered. "Shoulda guessed. You're just a coward."

Wetfoot hissed. "I didn't see you taking on a full grown fox! Firepaw is no coward. He just...doesn't understand everything yet." He sighed. "Firepaw...WindClan and ShadowClan have been rivals since the clans were formed countless moons ago. Our warriors test their skills against one another."

"But have WindClan ever murdered kits before?" Firepaw countered. "There could be some mistake—"

"There is NO mistake." The young cats turned to see Brokenstar standing in the entrance. The large tabby languidly walked into the den. "I understand your concerns young Firepaw. But there is no mistake. Raggedstar and the kits were both killed in the same area, near the WindClan border. That is no mere coincidence." He purred, circling around the apprentices. "And I know that all my warriors and apprentices will do their part." Nightpaw and Oakpaw looked up at their leader in awe. Whitepaw and Littlepaw faintly trembled with excitement and fear. Brownpaw gulped but tried to put on a strong front. Rowanpaw preened and Wetfoot sat seriously in what he hoped befit a warrior.

Firepaw felt the fur along his spine rise as Brokenstar stood in front of him, staring him in the eye. "Won't they?" Firepaw's tail twitched and he had to struggle just to get the words out. "....yes, Brokenstar." He said looking down at the ground.

Brokenstar nodded. "Good. I put a lot of faith and trust in welcoming you to the clan Firepaw. I hope I was not mistaken." Stung, Firepaw was stunned into silence as Brokenstar slunk away; as silently as he had come. As he left he added. "We attack tonight. So get some sleep now."

Firepaw could see that his friends and fellow apprentices were convinced by their leader...and he wondered if there was something wrong with him that he wasn't. "Aren't I supposed to listen to my Clan leader, trust what he says?" He asked himself. "Is it just my kittypet roots that stop me from trusting Brokenstar the way I should?"

As Wetfoot left for the warriors den, the other apprentices curled up for sleep each feeling anxious and excited about the upcoming battle. Firepaw was still awake even after all the others had gone to sleep. He envied their peaceful slumbers and wished to StarClan that he could join them. He paced around the den three times before he finally forced himself to sit down. The young apprentice curled up, resting his tail across his nose as he tried to will himself to sleep.

Firepaw couldn't recall falling asleep...but he must've been for he found himself at the same clearing with the four giant oak trees again. Again he found himself surrounded by cats with stars in their fur.

A cat stepped forward; a large dark brown tabby tom with ragged fur and a ripped ear. He smelled of the stars...and something more familiar. "ShadowClan scent?" He thought to himself.

The large cat stopped in front of Firepaw, looking both serious and a touch sad. "Evil must be opposed." He meowed, looking distinctly unhappy. "Even if it comes from...those close to you." He looked away.

"Or those far away." Firepaw looked up to see who had spoken. Out of the ranks of the starry cats came a handsome young tortoiseshell tom with distinctive ginger tail. "Evil must be opposed...anywhere."

"What do you mean?" Firepaw dug his claws into the grass, confused. "Who are you? What is it you want me to—?"

"Firepaw? Firepaw wake up!" With a loud yawn, Firepaw felt himself stir and open an eye. It was Boulder. Around him the other apprentices were being stirred. Outside it was dark; night had fallen. The moon was a slender sliver of its normal self, the stars in the sky blocked by clouds. Truly, it was a dark, forbidding night.

Boulder looked down on his apprentice with a very serious expression and nodded once. He meowed simply: "It's time."

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