Fire and Shadow

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


24. Chapter Twenty-Four

Yellowfang dropped a mouthful of bitter-smelling herbs at Firefang's paws. Firefang recognized the smell. They were the same travelling herbs they had shared when they traveled to the Moonstone. Yellowfang nodded at him. "Eat."

Obeying, Firefang swallowed the herbs down, his mouth twisting at the taste. "StarClan guide your path and bring you home safely." Yellowfang meowed seriously once he finished. "WindClan will not be easy to find…and even if you do, it may be hard to convince them to return."

Firefang looked her in the eyes. "I will return with WindClan or I won't return at all." He promised. "We need them back. There must be four Clans in the forest."

A smile tugged at the corner of Yellowfang's mouth. "Well said." She meowed. "You have come so far from the small kit who stumbled into our camp with. I am—very proud of you." Firefang blinked. What had brought this on? Firefang opened his mouth to ask just that when he felt a tail brush against his back. Turning his head, Firefang saw a familiar black apprentice.

Nightpaw meowed. "Good luck on your big mission Firefang!" Her eyes practically glowed. "I'll keep an eye on Gorsepaw for you while you're gone!"

Firefang smiled. "I appreciate that." The young WindClan/ShadowClan cat had desperately wanted to go with Firefang and Onewhisker and the others in finding his birth Clan but it was simply too long and arduous a journey for an apprentice to undertake. Wetfoot would be apprenticing Gorsepaw while Firefang was gone. "Take care Nightpaw." Firefang nodded, trying not to notice the lovestruck look his simple thanks but on her face as he headed out. Nightstar had already said his good-byes just as he returned from Mothermouth with his nine lives. Then, exhausted, he went into his den to sleep.

Onewhisker was waiting for him at the entrance, pacing anxiously. The WindClan warrior had barely slept and was so focused on finding his Clan that he barely tasted the traveling herbs. "Ready?" He asked Firefang, his tail lashing with impatience. At his nodd, the two cats left the ShadowClan camp and made their way across ShadowClan territory to Fourtrees. They detoured through WindClan territory to arrive since Firefang was not about to reveal ShadowClan's secret tunnel under the Thunderpath, one of his Clan's greatest secrets.

By the time they appeared, Ravenwing and Mistyfoot were already waiting. "Firefang!" Mistyfoot waved her tail and climbed to her feet when they saw them approach. Ravenwing stood and stretched a moment later.

"Welcome." The black ThunderClan cat purred. "I think my tail was about to fall asleep waiting for you."

"So then let's get going." Onewhisker urged, his head snapping back forth from one cat to the next; too excited to bother with pleasantries or hellos. "My Clan has been out there through Leafbare! Let's bring them home!"

Mistyfoot licked her chestfur flat before turning to Onewhisker. "Before we go running off like excited rabbits, why don't you tell us where you think your Clan might have gone?"

Onewhisker frowned then sat for a moment in consideration. "My Clan fled in the direction of the setting sun when ShadowClan attacked us. We should start from our camp and move in the same direction, looking for their scent."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Firefang nodded. "Let's try to make as much distance before nightfall as we can. Lead the way Onewhisker."

With the WindClan warrior in the lead, the four cats headed into WindClan territory. There wasn't much to see except stretched out wind-blown moorland. Across the moor darted the occasional rabbit. Fortunately for them the traveling herbs the cats had eaten sated their hunger—for now.

Firefang felt a pang of guilt and sorrow as he saw the hollow dip where the WindClan camp was situated. Memories of the fateful battle swirled around him as he thought of Brownpaw; who died in that battle, as did Badgerpaw, Gorsepaw's mother Morningflower and more.

Even after a full season, traces of the battle still remained: A clump of fur stubbornly hanging onto the gorsewall, dry blood stained rocks and the remnants of mossy nests torn apart by the battle. And just on the outskirts of the camp lay dirt covered mounds, bereft of grass, indicating where Yellowfang and the ShadowClan elders had buried the WindClan cats who had been killed in the battle.

"Let's find the scent trail out of here." Firefang said heavily. Onewhisker began nosing at the gap in the gorsewall that WindClan had used to escape.

Mistyfoot and Ravenwing looked around at the signs of battle. Ravenwing gently poked at one of the destroyed nests with his paw. Then he looked up, ears perked and twisted his head this way and that. "What is it?" Mistyfoot asked him.

Ravenwing looked at her, blinking nervously. "I thought I heard something." He opened his mouth, trying to scent if anything was present. Firefang turned just in time to see a pair of ears poking up from out from the rim of the hollow. His shoulder fur raised and he bared his teeth—just in time to realize who it was. With a groan Firefang called out: "Gorsepaw I know you're there! Come on out now!"

With a sheepish look on his face, the young apprentice poked his head up and padded into the WindClan camp. "Um, hello Firefang! Onewhisker." He nodded to Mistyfoot and Ravenwing.

Firefang sighed. "How did you know we were here?"

Shrugging, Gorsepaw meowed, "I guessed you would have to come here to get a scent from WindClan so I headed here first. I didn't think I could follow you all this way without being seen. I told Nightpaw I was going to make dirt and slipped away."

"Clever cat." Onewhisker's signature single whisker twitched in amusement. "He's WindClan all right."

In exasperation Firefang glowered at his apprentice. "Go back to camp. Now." Defiantly, Gorsepaw looked up and shook his head.

"This is my birth Clan!" Gorsepaw piped up. "I can't just sit back and do nothing!"

"Gorsepaw-" Firefang growled in annoyance.

Purring in amusement, Mistyfoot stepped forward between Gorsepaw and Firefang. "Young one, one of the first things a warrior must learn is obedience." Firefang looked at her with relief, grateful for the support.

"But isn't loyalty to your Clan the most important thing?" Gorsepaw asked innocently. Firefang blinked and Mistyfoot's fur fluffed. Gorsepaw's idle remark brought home to both Firefang and Mistyfoot the question they'd been trying to avoid: their relationship and their Clan loyalties. Which was more important?

Finally, Firefang meowed. "Alright," he sighed. "You can come."

"Thank you!" Gorsepaw purred, his tail whipping in excitement. Just then Onewhisker let out a yowl from the gorsewall gap.

"I've got their scent!"

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