Fire and Shadow

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


6. Chapter Six

"Let all those cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Smooth Boulder for a Clan meeting!"

When the bedraggled patrol had managed to drag themselves back to the camp and tell Brokenstar what had happened, Brokenstar immediately called a meeting. As the cats of the clan assembled, Brokenstar nodded. After briefly retailing the exploits of the patrol and a warning to keep an eye out for those foxes, Brokenstar paused taking a long look down at the clan.

"Our warriors and apprentices have provided a great service to our clan; one that must be recognized." Brokenstar meowed. "Wetpaw, step forward."

Despite being battered and tired Wetpaw's eyes lit up as he realized what was happening. He straightened himself up and quickly brushed a few idly tufts of fur back into place, Boulder purred delightedly. Brokenstar looked down on him.

"I, Brokenstar, leader of ShadowClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn. Wetpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your clan, even at the cost of your life?"

Wetpaw nodded and meowed eagerly. "I do."

"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior name, Wetpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Wetfoot. StarClan honors your strength, streadfastness and your loyalty and we welcome you as a full warrior of ShadowClan." Brokenstar leaped down and briefly rested his muzzle on Wetfoot's head. The new warrior respectfully licked his leader's shoulder as the clan broke out into enthusiastic yowls.

"Wetfoot! Wetfoot!"

The new warrior purred and stood up a little straighter as cats gathered round to congratulate him. Boulder came over and licked his former apprentice's ear, murmuring his congratulations. As the celebration wore down, Brokenstar spoke up. "Tonight Wetfoot will sit vigil alone. But we are not done here." Brokenstar waited for the confused murmurs to die down. "Tonight we honor two cats who have risked themselves for our clan, though they themselves were not born of ShadowClan they have proven themselves to be among the best of us..."

He purred in his none too subtle reminder of just who had brought those outsiders into the clan, rubbing their muzzles in who was right and who was wrong...and adding insult to injury to the four banished cats who were still not permitted inside the ShadowClan camp. "Boulder and Firepaw, we honor your strength and loyalty to ShadowClan!"

With a face that looked like he had just swallowed a mouthful of crowfood Blackfoot took up the chant. "Boulder! Firepaw!" Soon the whole clan was cheering their names, albeit some more reluctantly than others. But still, it was a warmer reception than any the two had ever gotten before. Boulder and Firepaw beamed.

Brokenstar meowed over the tumult. "In honor of today achievement, Firepaw accompany Yellowfang go to mothermouth, after the Gathering in a few days." He nodded to his wounded warriors. "Until then I suggest you see Yellowfang and rest up."

Boulder nodded and brushed his tail over Firepaw's ear. "Come on. Let's go to the medicine den." Firepaw followed Boulder into the den. Yellowfang and Runningnose looked up as they came in.

"All hail the conquering heroes, eh?" Yellowfang purred ironically. "Runningnose, fetch some burdock root. We have to make sure their rat wounds aren't infected." As Runningnose took care of Boulder, Yellowfang regarded Firepaw carefully. "Never thought I'd see the day when we let a kittypet join the Clan. Or that Brokenstar would praise him to the whole clan." In a slightly lower meow she added. "...or anyone besides himself."

Missing that last part, Firepaw tried to look for any sneer or derision in Yellowfang's face and was surprised when he found none. "I—I worked hard." Firepaw meowed finally.

"I know." Yellowfang nodded. "If you think it gets any easier, you've got fleas in your brain."

Firepaw let out a hiss as he felt some cobwebs being pressed into a particularly nasty gash the vixen had given him.

"I want you to come back tomorrow so I can check on that." Yellowfang meowed, before turning away. "Runningnose! Don't use so much cobwebs! Boulder's not a caterpillar!"

Firepaw limped out of the medicine den. He passed Wetp—Wetfoot—sitting vigil at the camp entrance in silence. Whiskers twitching, Firepaw walked past and ducked into the den. Whitepaw and Littlepaw were already curled up on the ground. Rowanpaw sat sulking in one corner, his eye opening as Firepaw entered. He pointedly turned away from Firepaw. Stung, Firepaw bristled. It seemed like some cats would never forget, or forgive, his kittypet origins. Too tired and sore to deal with him now, Firepaw found a nice soft spot to curl up and go to sleep.

Exhausted as he was from the day's activities it didn't take long for the orange apprentice to nod off. As he slept, Firepaw had a strange dream. He found himself in a place in the forest he had never seen before...a place surrounded by four giant oak trees and with a giant rock dominating the landscape. All around him were cats with stars in the fur. "Who are you?" Firepaw heard his own voice as if from very far away.

No answer came. The wind started to blow, rustling the leaves in the trees. Like a whisper, the wind seemed to carry the sound from everywhere and nowhere. There was a voice in the wind, "Evil must be opposed."

"I-I don't understand. What are you--?" Firepaw took a step forward. Then there was a blinding flash of pain and he awoke with a yowl. In his sleep he had rolled over, his cuts from the fox fight reopening.

"Firepaw?" It was Littlepaw. "Are—are you alright?"

Firepaw winced. "Y-yeah...sorry. Didn't mean to wake you." He hissed. "I-I'm going to go to the medicine den. Go back to sleep."

"Are you sure?" Littlepaw meowed, concerned. "I can help..." Firepaw shook his head firmly.

"I'll be fine." With that, Firepaw stiffly made his way out of the apprentice's den. The sun was just about to rise, sending pink and orange streaks across the sky. He poked his head into the medicine cat's den. "Yellowfang?"

An annoyed sounding yawn answered him. "Whoever you are, you're dead. Or you had better about to be dead, because that is the only goodreason you have for waking me this early!"

Firepaw flattened his ears, idly wondering if it was too late to go find that fox. "It's me Yellowfang. You, um, told me to come back, remember?"

"When I was awake, mousebrain!" The older cat snapped as she poked her head out of the medicine den and stretched. "Your wounds bothering you?" Her eyes critically scanned him. "Hmmm, nothing serious but you did manage to undo half my work." She lashed her tail in annoyance. "If this is your idea of finding excuses to be with me just so you can try to flirt with me, I have to's working." She let out an amused purr at Firepaw's flushing and stammered denials. "Mrow mrow mrow....I was joking mousebrain." She walked past him, flicking his ear with her tail. "Follow me. We need to find some more cobwebs."

Shaking his head, Firepaw followed her.

By the time Yellowfang had gathered up enough cobwebs the sun was just about fully up. The Clan would be stirring by now, the morning patrol about to be sent out. Yellowfang nodded. "Provided you don't do anything mousebrained you should be fine in a day or so. Now we should get back to camp...and maybe get a few minutes of sleep!"

Firepaw purred his agreement. As the pair approached the camp their ears and tails stood up straight as they heard an anguished wail emanate from inside the camp. Yellowfang hissed and drew herself up. "Come on!" She darted forward, claws unsheathed. Firepaw followed right behind.

The anguished wail went on and on as they drew closer. When they entered the camp, Yellowfang and Firepaw drew back in shock and dismay. A black and white queen was wailing as a small bloodied kit, her fur mostly torn off lay in the middle of the camp, being attended to by an anxious Runningnose. Brokenstar stood nearby, looking on the sight coldly. "Well?"

After what seemed like an eternity, Runningnose looked up sadly and shook his head. "I'm sorry Brightflower—" he said, looking at the upset black and white queen whose cries only redoubled. "Blossomkit hunts with StarClan now." He hung his head.

Brightflower leaned against another warrior and sobbed. "N-not both of them." She cried. "StarClan would not take both my kits from me!"

"StarClan didn't." Brokenstar rumbled suddenly, cutting through the cries and wails of the Clan. Utter silence reigned as he looked about. He saw Yellowfang and a cruel idea crossed his wicked mind. "Yellowfang, where were you? You were not in the camp." He stated accusingly.

Murmurs started to go back and forth among the cats of ShadowClan as they wondered—and suspected—what Brokenstar was insinuating. A cold chill running down his spine, Firepaw stepped forward. "She was with me Brokenstar." He gulped. "I went to get my injuries checked and we went out to get some more cobwebs."

"It's true!" Littlepaw piped up. "I saw Firepaw get up this morning. He told me where he was going!"

Runningnose nodded sadly. "I saw her getting up to go...and Brokenstar, even if she were here it would have made no difference. Blossomkit was too far gone...and her sibling was already dead. She couldn't have saved them."

Inwardly, Brokenstar scowled. He had wanted to blame that troublesome Yellowfang for the kits deaths and rid himself of a potential internal opponent as he had done with Nightpelt and the others...but he could not get rid of Firepaw. He needed him for whatever the prophecy had called upon him to do! Thinking quickly, the ShadowClan leader switched tracks.

"...Very well." He meowed at last. "I merely wanted to see if you saw anything." He flicked his gaze away from Yellowfang and back to his cats as a different idea struck him. "I scented the kits sneaking out of the camp kits will." Brokenstar looked around for confirmation. "I followed them...and when I did I found them like this." He waved a paw at the two bloodied bodies before them. "They were close to the WindClan border...the same area my father Raggedstar was before he died in an 'unexplained' ambush." He growled and raised his voice. "Warriors! It is clear what has happened here! WindClan killed the kits, just as they killed our leader, the noble Raggedstar!"

A tumult of angry yowls and hisses broke out as the grief and rage from these kits pointless deaths was manipulated and whipped up into a frenzied rage. Firepaw looked around, not fully understanding what was going on...but he knew he didn't like it.

Over the outraged cats, Brokenstar raised his voice. "No more! WindClan has cowardly murdered our clanmates and must be punished! We will make them pay for what they've done! Tomorrow....we go to war with WindClan!"

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