Fire and Shadow

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

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4992672/1/Fire-and-Shadow

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36. Chapter Thirty-Six

Dawn broke over the tops of the four great oaks of Fourtrees. Firefang purred as he felt the warm sunlight against his orange fur. The Clans were ready for battle. RiverClan with their heavier, bulkier cats occupied the center of the Clan line, flanked by ShadowClan and WindClan.

Across the clearing, Tigerstar and Scourge led BloodClan and ThunderClan out of the forest. Row upon row of vicious rogues wearing dog tooth studded collars hissed and spat. On one side of the BloodClan cats were the cats of ThunderClan and the other side, the motley array of ex-ShadowClan cats and non-BloodClan rogues led by Brokentail.

Tigerstar strutted forward to the head of the line. "What is your choice?" His meow was confident and condescending. "Will you submit or will you become crowfood?"

The answer was loud and emphatic as cats yowled their defiance. "Eat fox-dung you mangy murderer!" "Never!" "We will never join you!" "You're the crowfood mousebrain!" Tallstar, Leopardstar and Nightstar yowled out over their cats.

"I told you before, my Clan will never join you!" Tallstar spat.

"ShadowClan has had its share of tyrants!" Nightstar meowed firmly.

Leopardstar yowled long and loud. "We will avenge Crookedstar!"

"We reject your 'offer.' The forest was never meant to be ruled by one Clan, especially not one led by a dishonorable murderer." Firefang called out from his place on the line. It was to him, not the Clan leaders that Tigerstar turned to face.

"But it will be." He purred softly. Tigerstar flicked his tail as if the Clans rejection of him was of no consequence. "So be it." He turned and stalked back to his line. Before he could give a single order Tallstar gave a sharp cry.

"Now!"

The Clan leaders had been preparing for days and their Clans knew what to do. WindClan's unique emphasis on orchestrating and planning battle strategies—even using sticks and stones to represent warriors and their surroundings!—meant that Tallstar was the driving force behind the battle plan of the three Clans. While RiverClan occupied the center of the clearing, patrols of ShadowClan and WindClan warriors swung wide and charged at the ends of the BloodClan ranks. They harassed the BloodClan cats, striking and fading before their foes could respond.

They repeated this attack, a classic WindClan tactic, two or three more times. Firefang led the ShadowClan group and Onewhisker led the WindClan group. Mistyfoot and Ravenwing stayed with the Clan leaders in the middle of the RiverClan formation, the slower members of WindClan and ShadowClan intermingled throughout.

Tigerstar growled. Normally he wouldn't mind seeing that upstart Scourge's cats getting their ears clawed if it knocked him down a peg, but what was vexing was that his TigerClan (as he renamed ThunderClan) warriors were simply standing by and letting them do it! They didn't raise so much as a claw in defense of BloodClan or in an attack against the raiding Clan cats.

"Whitestorm!" Tigerstar bellowed. "If those WindClan cats aren't shredded on their next pass, then you will be!" The older white warrior met Tigerstar's gaze without flinching. He raised his tail in signal. Then Onewhisker led his patrol against BloodClan again. As WindClan cats started slashing and clawing at BloodClan cats ThunderClan sprang into action…falling upon their erstwhile allies in BloodClan with fang and claws. Only Darkstripe, Tigerstar's deputy of 'Tiger'Clan attempted, to no avail, to battle the WindClan raiders. "TigerClan, stop!" Tigerstar yowled, to no avail.

Whitestorm clawed a BloodClan cat then whirled to face his ex-leader. "There is no TigerClan. There is only ThunderClan and we stand with the other three Clans, a LionClan, to fight the tiger in the forest." He meowed stolidly. "As Firefang said, you are a dishonorable murderer. Consider yourself banished from ThunderClan!"

Tigerstar snarled, his claws digging into the earth, imagining it was Whitestorm's pelt. "Rally to me! TigerClan, to me!" Only Darkstripe joined Tigerstar's side. The large tabby shook with rage.

"Dustpelt! Longtail!"

Dustpelt stopped battling long enough to whirl around and glower at Tigerstar. "I looked up to you. I wanted to be like you. But Redtail was my mentor. I owe him more than any cat. And you killed him." He hissed furiously, his back arching. "You killed him and betrayed the Clan. I'd rather die than follow you!"

Longtail, the pale tabby who was a longtime supporter of Tigerstar—mentored by Darkstripe, Tigerstar's own apprentice—flattened his ears against his head, his tail lowered. "I—I'm loyal to ThunderClan." The pale warrior stammered nervously. He took a deep breath. "What you're doing to kits and to elders…I won't be a part of it!" He was obviously scared of defying Tigerstar but firm in his course.

Tigerstar growled. "Bramblepaw! Tawnypaw! To me!"

His kits stared back at their father, refusing to budge. Tigerstar growled again, deeper. "TigerClan will rule over the whole forest, and you can share my power. ThunderClan is finished. There is nothing there for you." He seemed to bite off each word.

"Fox-dung!" Tawnypaw spat. "I'm a loyal ThunderClan cat. You don't frighten me. And I don't want anything you can give me!" Bramblepaw nodded, standing side by side with his sister.

"Join you? After everything you've done? I'd rather die!" ThunderClan cats who weren't in the thick of battle murmured and yowled their support.

"Are you sure?" Tigerstar asked softly, dangerously. "I won't make the offer twice. Join me now, or you will die."

"Then at least we'll go to StarClan as loyal ThunderClan cats." Bramblepaw said his head held high as Tawnypaw stood beside him. Their mother Goldenflower also sent a hiss Tigerstar's way. Nothing could be more damaging than the near unanimous rejection of Tigerstar by his own Clan, including his own kits.

"Fools! Stay, then, and die with these other fools!" Tigerstar stalked off, Darkstripe tagging along as usual as he launched into another part of the battle.

On the other side of the battle, Firefang's raiding party had been bolstered by the addition of Blackfoot's dissidents who had turned on and started fighting with BloodClan and Brokentail's few remaining allies; Jaggedtooth and Clawface.

Blackfoot, Boulder, Russetfur, and a torn-eared, scar muzzled rogue named Nightwhisper had joined with the attacking ShadowClan cats against BloodClan, throwing the battle into chaos. BloodClan cats charged ahead, trying to get away from the raiding patrols they charged ahead directly at the immobile line of RiverClan cats.

RiverClan tensed, ready for the first rank of BloodClan cats to crash into them. Being generally larger and bulkier, the RiverClan cats were capable of holding down their attackers and rake them with the claws until they had enough. If that didn't knock them out, the fishy smell would. As BloodClan battled RiverClan and the other cats in the center, the raiding parties and ThunderClan fell on BloodClan from behind. From there the battle degenerated into a freewheeling melee of biting, scratching, clawing cats.

Firefang whirled around and slashed a black BloodClan tom's nose. Yowling in pain he swung, drawing a slash across Firefang's flank. Hissing, Firefang batted his face and ears with his claws until the cat whirled and fled.

Elsewhere Boulder tumbled across the ground, locked into a ball with Jaggedtooth. "Traitor!" Jaggedtooth yowled. His yowl took a different pitch as Boulder sunk his fangs into his shoulder. "Mangy fox-hearted piece of crowfood!" Boulder shouted back as he leapt back, letting his claws slash across Jaggedtooth's throat. Blood welled up as Jaggedtooth gurgled, blood starting to spill from his jaws as he spasmed and fell on his side. Boulder spat, trying to get the taste of Jaggedtooth out of his mouth as he sprang back into the battle.

Brokentail hissed at the death of one of his last supporters. He sprang at Boulder, claws unsheated. "Ungrateful wretch! I made you a ShadowClan warrior and this is how you repay me?" Without waiting for an answer he scored deep bloody gashes along the skinny gray tom's sides.

Boulder hissed and spat. "I trusted you and you brought BloodClan to the forest! You broke the warrior code and murdered kits! I owe you nothing anymore but a quick death!"

"Brokentail!" Onewhisker howled as he bonded into the fray, landing on Brokentail's back and sinking in his claws. The disgraced former ShadowClan leader howled in pain and fury. Bucking, he threw the WindClan cat off him. "This is for Morningflower and WindClan!" Onewhisker yowled, slashing and clawing like a badger.

But Brokentail was a tough cat. He battered Onewhisker with his claws before spying a familiar flat-faced gray cat tending to Boulder's wounds. "You." He hissed as he turned and charged at Yellowfang. Yellowfang looked up just in time for Brokentail to knock into her.

"This is all your fault!" He raged as he clawed at the ShadowClan medicine cat. "You and your prophecy! You brought that treacherous kittypet into my Clan! You ruined everything!"

Yellowfang was a warrior before she took up the calling of medicine cat, which was the only reason Brokentail hadn't managed to overpower her entirely. But he did drive Yellowfang into the underbrush, clawing and slashing with such powerful fury that she was soon bleeding from her ears, her sides, and a nasty cut above her eye.

"You know, medicine cats are not supposed to be part of a battle." She meowed dryly, trying not to wince in pain."

"You think I care?" Brokentail laughed lowly, nastily. Panting, Yellowfang found the strength to hiss back at Brokentail. "I know you care for nothing, Brokentail. Not your Clan, nor your honor, nor your own kin." She finished softly.

"I have no kin." Brokentail spat, slashing her again with his claws. Yellowfang yowled in pain as she fell on her side. She felt the nature of her wounds and knew them to be fatal.

Yellowfang landed hard on her side in a dense bush. Slowly she climbed to her paws and shook her head, even as blood started to tint her yellow fangs red. "Wrong. Your kin has been closer to you than you ever dreamed. I'm your mother, Brokentail."

Brokentail paused. Then he chuckled. "Spiders have spun webs in your brain, old one. Medicine cats never have kits."

"That's why I had to give you up." Yellowfang mewed with regret, her paws scraping the ground. "But I never stopped caring…never. When you were a young warrior, I was so proud of you." Something shone in her eyes. But it soon passed as she growled, her claws grinding into the ground. "And then you murdered Raggedstar. Your own father. You killed kits of our Clan, and made WindClan take the blame. You would have destroyed our Clan, all the Clans, completely. So now it is time to put an end to all this treachery."

"And end?" Brokentail threw back his head and laughed, loudly. "What can you do, you old…" Yellowfang's paw darted out faster than Brokentail thought possible, raking her claws across his throat in a deep gash. He coughed, blood matting his chest fur. "Y-you think this….changes anything?" He gasped as his back legs buckled beneath him. "I still h-have another life. You don't."

Yellowfang flopped to the ground, struggling for breath. "N-no…" She raised her claws which were dripping with something besides blood, something more solid and pulpy. "These are deathberries…they were…on my claws. Now, they're in…your blood."

Brokentail's eyes widened. His blood felt like it was on fire as his voice raised itself to a thin screech and fell heavily on his side. He thrashed his limbs and spasmed as he lost his life. Then he lay still. Yellowfang half-closed her eyes, struggling for breath. After a moment Brokentail stirred to life again, but continued to thrash. StarClan could grant him multiple lives but it could not purge the death berries from his bloodstream.

Clawing and scratching at the ground as if to anchor himself in life, Brokentail's thrashings grew weaker and weaker. He gasped, unable to speak. Then it became too much for him to move. His body rattled as he lost his last life.

Yellowfang closed her own eyes and welcomed the same blackness that had just taken Brokentail. Maybe there, she hoped as her eyes swirled with darkness, she could finally find some peace…

 
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