Fire and Shadow

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


13. Chapter Thirteen

Firefang tried to carry on with his warrior duties as best he could, as if nothing had happened. He kept waiting for Yellowfang to tell him what she had learned, but she never did. Still, Firefang found what excuse he could to be in the medicine cat's den. Not so much for Yellowfang...he wanted to keep an eye on Onewhisker.

The young WindClan warrior had been confined there since the battle. He was recovering well, Yellowfang told Firefang. But he hated being there. Firefang did what he could to make things easier for him.

Firefang carried a mouse into the den in his mouth. He dropped it by Onewhisker's side. Onewhisker had been laying on his side and looked up at Firefang when he approached. "Couldn't have found a rabbit could you?" He grumbled.

"We still haven't gotten the knack of hunting them." Firefang meowed, knowing it would make Onewhisker happier to hear that ShadowClan still couldn't hunt rabbits as well as they would like. Onewhiskers took a bite of the mouse.

"Don't try too hard to learn. WindClan will be back to drive you sorry fur balls off our territory once and for all." Onewhisker mumbled around a mouthful of mouse.

It had taken a while...but Onewhisker had come to trust Firefang. He knew that the orange tabby had saved his life twice that night: once during the battle with Jaggedtooth and then again when he had revealed himself to ShadowClan. It was almost enough to make the WindClan cat resent Firefang for that; but he was all alone, a prisoner of an enemy clan and he was so lonely...

Onewhisker twitched his tail. "Don't suppose I could convince you to spring me?" He meowed, a conspiratorial look in his eye.

Shaking his head Firefang gave the same answer he gave every time Onewhisker asked. "Sorry, no."

"Mousedung." Onewhisker groaned over-dramatically, raising a paw to his face.

Firefang purred in amusement then his ears perked up as he heard someone yowling his name. "Gotta go. I'll see you later Onewhisker." He nodded once before darting out of the medicine cat den. He fought back a grimace when he saw it was Blackfoot who had called him.

The ShadowClan deputy looked unhappy, though for the life of him Firefang couldn't ever recall him looking any different. He nodded gruffly towards Wetfoot and Darkflower and their apprentices; Oakpaw and Nightpaw respectively. "Hunting patrol. They're going to be hunting near the Thunderpath. Keep an eye open for ThunderClan patrols. See what they're up to. And re-mark the border's while your at it."

"Right." Firefang nodded. He dipped his head respectfully, trying not to notice the narrowed eyes Blackfoot was scorching his fur with and padded over to the patrol. "Hello Wetfoot, Darkflower."

"Hey Firefang." Wetfoot smiled, Darkflower echoing him with a nod. "Ready to go make sure ThunderClan stays on its side of the Thunderpath?"

The orange tabby smirked. "Sounds good to me." Of course he wouldn't mind running into a ThunderClan patrol, especially if Ravenpaw was on it. The black apprentice knew something: Firefang didn't know what it was or if it even had anything to do with ShadowClan, but somehow he knew he had to find out.

The patrol made its way to the Thunderpath. There was no sign of any ThunderClan activity. After remarking the borders, the three warriors split off to do some hunting, the two mentors accompanied by their apprentices. Firefang caught whiff of a vole down wind from him.

Walking softly over the soft pines, Firefang crept upon the hapless vole without so much as a sound to alert his prey of his presence. He got within a tail-length of the vole without it ever being aware of him. Then Firefang pounced! He had no sooner killed the vole than he had heard an anguished yowl.

Not the vole...but a cat! "Nightpaw!" He realized in horror. Forgetting the dead vole, Firefang sprung to his paws and dashed to where he had heard the yowl. "Hang on Nightpaw!"

When he found the pretty black apprentice he stopped short. Hissing in front of her was a poisonous snake, coiled and ready to strike. The snake must have been resting just beneath the ground when Nightpaw had come past and disturbed it. She was far too close to get away before it could strike...and it was so close that the snake would not miss if it struck at her.

Digging his claws into the ground, Firefang frantically sought for an answer. He was downwind of the snake...he only hoped the wind would hold. If the snake scented or heard any sudden noises it would instinctively strike out...and Nightpaw would be the one paying the price.

Then he went cold all over as he realized that the rest of the patrol would've heard Nightpaw as well...they would be here soon. And when they came...

"I have to do something before the others arrive!" Firefang realized with a start. "Or the wind changes. But can I get close enough to that snake before..." Almost without realizing it, Firefang started creeping towards the snake from behind. He prayed to StarClan that the snake kept its attention on Nightpaw.

Trembling, the poor apprentice looked absolutely terrified, frozen in fright. Her wide eyes looked over to Firefang pleadingly. She was about to cry out for help when Firefang preemptively silenced her with a near frantic shake of his head.

Silently creeping towards the serpent, using every bit of ShadowClan silent walking techniques he had ever learned; Firefang felt every second, every pawstep, every breath as if it lasted a moon. He was almost upon the snake when the serpent suddenly turned its head, its tongue slithering out as it tested the air.

The snake scented Firefang's heat and tensed up, its coil ready to spring. Even though he was still almost a foxlength away, Firefang had no choice but to pounce. Claws outstretched, he sailed through the air towards the snake.

Everything moved as if in slow motion. The snake's head started to turn to Firefang when his claws sank into the back of its head. Hissing in pain and anger, the snake writhed this way and that, trying to through Firefang off. The ShadowClan warrior dug in tight and buried his fangs into the snake's neck, close to the head so it couldn't turn and bite him. He bit down hard, breaking the snake's back. It writhed and quivered in its death throes. Firefang closed his eyes and bit down harder and didn't let go even with the snake's thrashings lessened...and then stopped entirely.

He was still clutching the dead snake in his mouth when the rest of the patrol returned. "Firefang?" "NIGHTPAW!" Darkflower ran ahead of Wetfoot and Oakpaw to her shocked apprentice, licking her face fiercely. "Are you alright?"

Oakpaw looked in wide eyed amazement. "Wow... you killed that snake?"

"Are you okay?" Wetfoot asked. As if in a daze Firefang nodded, finally remembering to open his mouth and dropped the dead snake from his jaw.

"Yeah..." Firefang panted. "I'm okay. Is Nightpaw...?"

"In shock, but okay." Wetfoot confirmed. "We should take her back to Yellowfang to make sure. You too."

Nodding stiffly feeling suddenly tired, he nodded. "Just be sure to bring back the prey..."

Wetfoot draped his tail gently across Firefang's back. "Of course....come on. Let's go home." Exhausted, Firefang let Wetfoot lead him home; Darkflower doing the same for Nightpaw; carrying the prey they had caught in their teeth. Oawpaw brought up the rear, carrying the dead snake with him.

They created quite a stir when they re-entered camp; especially the sight of the dead snake. Hearing the commotion, Yellowfang padded out of the medicine cat den. Then she called for Runningnose. "Bring some poppy seeds and clear a space for Nightpaw!"

Runningnose sniffed and guided Nightpaw towards the den, Darkflower following them. Then Nightpaw suddenly stopped. "Wait." She mewed. Turning around she padded up to Firefang. "Thank you Firefang...thank you." Not waiting for him to respond she gently licked his cheek and then turned back around and let herself be guided into the den.

"Firefang." The orange tabby looked up to see Brokenstar and Blackfoot approaching, the former looking very pleased—with himself. "Good work Firefang, very good work." He purred in self-satisfaction. "We're going to place the body of the dead snake in front of the camp's entrance as a warning to those who would dare challenge ShadowClan." He beamed as though he'd been the one to actually kill the snake.

Dipping his head, Firefang meowed. "I—I was only concerned with saving Nightpaw." Brokenstar blinked as if he'd never heard of her.

"Yes, quick decisive thinking and bold action. Very good. Moving so silently that a snake couldn't hear you...until it's too late. Your very act exemplified everything ShadowClan stands for." Brokenstar nodded. Firefang couldn't help but notice he omitted any mention of actually saving a clanmate's life. "As a matter of fact..." Brokenstar raised his voice. "Let all those cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Smooth Boulder for a Clan meeting!" he yowled.

From all corners of the camp, the cats of ShadowClan assembled. At a nod to Clawface, the scarred warrior walked into the nursery. Gorsekit, the 'adopted' WindClan kit was nudged out roughly by Clawface.

The kit, not yet six months old, looked wide-eyed and nervous. He didn't remember his mother or his Clan...but he knew he was somehow different. He was treated differently; the lingering scent of WindClan hadn't yet left him.

Brokenstar glowered down on the young kit. "By naming apprentices, we show that we are strong/ From this day, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Gorsepaw." Over some hushed murmurings Brokenstar continued. "I ask StarClan to watch over you and guide you until you find in your paws the strength and courage of a warrior. Firefang," Firefang looked up with a jolt. "You will be mentor to this apprentice. You are a valiant and loyal warrior, and I hope you will pass this knowledge to your new apprentice."

Stunned, Firefang padded over to Gorsepaw and gently rubbed his nose against that of Gorsepaw. "Gorsepaw! Gorsepaw!" Shouted the Clan—or at least most of it. Above the chants of the Clan and the self-satisfied look of Brokenstar, Firefang looked into the eyes of that nervous, scared looking kit who knew he wasn't home...and swore that somehow, he would make sure that he would be. Somehow.

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