Warriors doesn't belong to me.
Firepaw restlessly paced in front of the apprentice den. He wasn't just nervous because of the kit they'd found, but what Thunder had told him about Scourge. The ginger tom really wanted to tell the others about it, but something told him he should not involve more than one or two more cats. Shaking his head he settled down, to have Sandpaw sitting down next to him. She purred softly and licked his shoulder. "That kit troubles you a lot, doesn't it?", asked the pale-ginger she-cat.
Firepaw only gave a nod in answer. What else should he say? It was the truth after all. The chance that the Dark Forest was the reason behind the she-kit's injury was disturbing, but very much there. Suddenly he heard a yowl and looked up.
Nightstar leaped up to the Highledge and called for a clan-meeting. Confused Firepaw looked around, to flatten his ears in annoyance. His thoughts had kept him from realising that Ravenpaw, Silverpaw and Whitepaw, which hadn't been there before, were back already.
"Let all cat's old enough to catch their own prey join beneath the Highledge for a clan-meeting!"
Nightstar's voice rang through the camp clearly and the few cats that had been in their dens came out to join everyone else. Firepaw, with Sandpaw right behind him, made his way through the warriors to sit down next to Rockheart. Once everyone was gathered, Nightstar started speaking.
"Cats of ThunderClan, as most of you most likely already know, the Dawn patrol found an injured WindClan kit near the border." Gasps came from the cats who didn't know this yet. "I'm afraid we cannot say who attacked the kit though, since Reedheart greed that there is no foreign scent on the she-cat besides her own and the milky scent that must be her mother's." Nightstar's eyes darkened a bit, as did the eyes of every clan-member that had kits. They all could feel for the WindClan queen that had to be the kit's mother. Finally Nightstar blinked a few times, before he continued: "The problem now is though, how shall we inform WindClan of us finding and treating their kit without having them believe we stole and injured it in the first place." He waited for the clan to speak up and finally Whisperear croaked: "What about sending a medicine cat to them?"
"I cannot leave", answered Splashwhisker before Nightstar managed to open his mouth. "The kit was severely injured and as much trust as I have in Spottedpaw's abilities, I rather not leave the kit alone with her." Firepaw saw the slight disdain that flashed through the medicine cat's eyes at his own words. He could easily leave the kit with Spottedpaw, but the clan couldn't know that yet.
"Then what if Spottedpaw goes?", offered a white-furred tom with dark blue, almost black, eyes. "Have you lost your mind Snowfall?!", exclaimed Mountainfang, Spottedpaw's father.
Rockheart shot to her legs and cried: "I will not let my kit go into WindClan territory. Privileges of medicine cats or not!" Nightstar on the other hand looked thoughtful and Rivertail offered: "What if we send some cats to accompany her? As protection."
"And who?", asked Fangtail, the young warriors green eyes flared dangerously. Applepelt, his brother, nodded in agreement and added: "Yes. How many warriors can we send without being suspicious?"
Despite them being warriors for roughly two moons, the two had obviously learned much from their mentors, concluded Firepaw, then an idea came to mind. Sneaking to Reedheart, since offering this by himself would catch to much attention, he quickly hissed his idea into the spotted tom's ear. His eyes hardened for a second, but he nodded nonetheless and sat straight before calling: "How about sending two more apprentices and a young warrior with them?" Everyone turned to look at Reedheart, who explained: "Think about it. As a medicine cat apprentice, Spottedpaw is allowed to cross the border lines. It would seem strange though that she crosses them alone. If we send two more apprentices with her, preferably one around her age and one older, as well as one of our younger warriors, WindClan has to accept that this is an escort for Spottedpaw, since they all know Nightstar would never send such a group of cats to fight."
Everyone was silent, then Nightstar nodded and asked: "And who do you recon should go?"
"Considering from what I saw during the test, from the cats around her own age either Bluepaw or Firepaw", answered Reedheart. Firepaw saw his father wincing slightly at his name, while Rockheart's eyes became wide. Firepaw got ready to volunteer as soon as possible, if necessary. It wouldn't do any good to his mentor if two of her daughters left. "As for the older apprentice…we'd need a clam one I suppose. One that can already focus on the task at hand easily." He directed his gaze at Rivertail, Hawkpath and Mountainfang.
The three shared glances, then Rivertail shook his head: "I'm afraid to say Nettlepaw won't be up for it. He's a wonderful fighter, but still a bit too hot-headed." That drew an upset growl from the apprentice and Firepaw dug his claws into the ground to keep from laughing.
Hawkpath and Mountainfang shared a glance, before both nodded and Hawkpath spoke: "We think Hailpaw would be suited best for this task. He's calm and rather leaves speaking to others. Though he is a force to be reckoned in battle. My own apprentice is a little too…" He trailed off, searching for a word that wouldn't offend Frostpaw. "Bubbly", offered Splashwhisker with a chuckle. Hawkpath nodded, as did Nightstar, before he turned back to Reedheart and asked: "And who was the warrior you thought off?"
"Songheart", answered the senior warrior immediately.
The ginger she-cat next to Applepelt froze up, then stared at Reedheart wide-eyed. Iceclaw, a small black tom with ice-blue eyes and one white paw, who Firepaw couldn't help but compare to Scourge, asked: "Why her?" The protectiveness in his voice almost sent Firepaw cracking up. Someone had definitely fallen for the newest warrior of ThunderClan.
Reedheart remained unfazed by Iceclaw and calmly explained: "She, and I apologize if this offends now, is what other clans might see as crippled." Hisses cut through the air, but with a flick of his tail Nightstar silenced them. Reedheart nodded to him in thanks. "Which can work out to our advantage. We all know what a well fighter Songheart is. StarClan she can easily pin her brothers when she puts her mind on it." Now most cats purred while Fangtail and Applepelt frowned slightly. "But WindClan doesn't know this, so if they try to harm her or the apprentices, they're in for quite a surprise."
Nightstar glanced to his paws once Reedheart fell silent, contemplating what his warrior had said. Finally he nodded and stated: "Reedheart we will go through with your plan. Now Rockheart, I'm certain you're not willing to send two of your kits out on this mission." Rockheart shook her head furiously and pulled Bluepaw closer with her tail. The bluish-grey she-cat rolled her eyes a little, but allowed it. Firepaw also saw how Lionclaw lowered her head in defeat and Nightstar looked just as uneasy as her. Yet the leader turned to him and asked: "Firepaw?"
"I'll go", answered the ginger tom strongly. "Spottedpaw is my friend and I want to help the kit."
Nightstar hid a sigh. Firepaw saw it at the way the black tom held himself. It was the same position he himself had often had when he didn't want to show his clan how uneasy he really was. Raising his head, Nightstar scanned the sky and nodded to himself. "Very well. Mountainfang, Songheart, Rockheart, Hailpaw, Firepaw and Spottedpaw come with me to my den, we'll talk about the details for a while, then you can leave. Splashwhisker could you leave the kit at least for a short while. We'll need an exact report on the kit's condition." The grey-furred medicine cat nodded and turned to ask Darkpetal, Whitepaw's and Hollypaw's mother, to keep an eye on the kit. "Meeting dismissed", called Nightstar before making his way up to his den.
Firepaw immediately bounded after his father, followed by everyone else.
The den got quite stuffed with that many cats, but they wouldn't stay long.
Nightstar explained to them were WindClan's camp was, more or less, having Firepaw silently thank StarClan that it was still where it used to be in his time. He could easily find it then. What they were supposed to say, who they should ask to talk to and so on. Then he turned to Splashwhisker, who explained: "The kit is stable. Chances she'll survive are good. She has some deep slashes on her belly though. Walking is out of question for the next half moon and she can only lie on her flank. The herbs…well I hope WindClan's healer will come with whoever they send to get the kit. If not, Spottedpaw you certainly remember what I treated her with."
Spottedpaw nodded in answer to her mentor and Nightstar dismissed them.
The leader led them till the camp-exit, where Lionclaw practically pounced on Firepaw. With a yelp Firepaw tried to struggle away from his mother, to no avail. Finally he gave up and allowed her to lovingly shave his forehead with her tongue. After a while she pulled back though and whispered: "Promise me to be careful, my little warrior."
Firepaw nodded his head and answered: "I promise Lionclaw. And we'll come back with someone to get the kit home." Lionclaw nodded and finally let him go.
The group, led by Songheart, bounded out of the camp and started their run to the border.
During the run Firepaw looked at Songheart. Despite her injured paw, that somehow reminded him of one of WindClan's former deputies Deadfoot, she kept a steady pace, leading her followers cleanly through the forest. She was a good warrior. Received her name a little late because of the accident that caused her injured paw, but a good warrior nonetheless. He barely recognized the sweet she-cat he knew from camp anymore right now. She fitthe title warrior completely right now.
Reaching the border didn't take long and Songheart skidded to a stop before they crossed it. Behind her the three apprentices stopped as well and she instructed: "Alright, this is how we do it. Hailpaw, you stay at my left."
The grey tabby tom nodded, his white furred around his muzzle turning from a nervous frown to a serious expression.
"Firepaw you stay on my right."
Firepaw nodded as well.
"And Spottedpaw you stay right between and behind Firepaw and myself."
The medicine cat apprentice nodded as well and the three apprentices took their positions, before Songheart steadily led them onto the plain territory.
They walked for quite a while, then Hailpaw asked: "Shouldn't we soon see the stone Nightstar mentioned." Firepaw nodded to himself and scanned the land to his right. He knew from his memories that they were a little too close to the border that led to the lands beyond the territories, so the stone that marked their way should be more right. By now every cat scanned WindClan territory for the stone and finally Firepaw spotted it.
Songheart followed his tail-gesture, to spot the smooth grey stone as well. Immediately she padded of again, this time for the stone. Firepaw and the other two apprentices followed her.
They were only a few tail-lengths form the stone, when a voice hissed: "Stop! No step further."
Immediately Songheart stopped walking, as did the apprentices, and a group of four cats leaped out. Three warriors and one apprentice. Firepaw recognized Streakpelt and his Runningpaw. The warrior looked at Firepaw nervously, obviously still fearing he would tell someone what had happened that night. Mentally rolling his eyes, Firepaw concentrated on the other two members of the patrol, the ones he didn't know.
One was a golden-brown tabby tom with white belly-fur and in the lead was a silver-grey she-cat with dark stripes and piercing dark-amber eyes. They seemed almost brown to Firepaw.
"Who are you and what are you doing on our territory?", hissed the she-cat. Firepaw saw Songheart taking a deep breath, then she took a step forward.
"Greetings. My name is Songheart and I'm ThunderClan's youngest warrior. Firepaw, Hailpaw and myself are escorting Spottedpaw, our medicine cat's apprentice. She has some important news for Crowstar, and Hazeclaw."
"So then why didn't she come alone? She is a medicine cat after all!", hissed the brighter tabby.
"Twigfur enough", hissed the she-cat back. Then she turned back to Songheart and stated: "He has a point though"
Firepaw tried his best to not let his nervousness show, but Songheart simply answered: "Only yesterday we met a fox on our territory. He was chased off in ShadowClan direction, but you'll understand why Nightstar didn't want Spottedpaw to go alone."
"But why a cripple and two apprentices?", pointed Twigfur out.
"Is a thorn stuck in your paw or why are you this rude today", hissed Streakpelt, obviously hoping to be silent enough to not have ThunderClan hear. Firepaw doubted anyone but him heard him though. "That's Nightstar's son with them!"
Twigfur's eyes widened for a second. The she-cat focused her attention back to the ThunderClan cats and stated: "I suppose he sent you all with the medicine cat to make sure you would not seem like a threat." Songheart nodded and explained: "We can defend ourselves against rouges and even foxes, but only us four taking on WindClan is just mouse-brained."
The she-cat nodded, then turned to Twigfur and said: "Run to camp and tell them we'll be bringing a few ThunderClan cats with us."
"Yes Beesting", called Twigfur and ran off.
"Come", said Beesting and started off into the direction Twigfur disappeared to. She walked swiftly, but stopped every now and then, looking mostly at Runningpaw, as well as the ThunderClan apprentices when she did. Songheart's easy walk obviously convinced her that the younger warrior had no trouble. After a while they reached shallow scoop WindClan camp was in and Beesting led them to a tall boulder. In front of it Firepaw recognized Crowstar, Brackenheart and Sunnydawn. Twigfur sat nearby, but there was no sign of Hazeclaw, the medicine cat.
"Maybe he's with the kit's mother", mumbled Hailpaw softly. Firepaw meowed in agreement, then they already reached Crowstar. The black furred leader looked at the group, then asked: "Twigfur informed me that you have a message for us? And I excuse for any too rude behaviour before. A kit went missing and…" Crowstar trailed off and grimaced. It seemed that he didn't want to reveal that actually.
Songheart took a deep breath, then answered: "It is alright. And…your missing kit is the reason we're here." Every WindClan cat froze and Songheart quickly continued: "Our Dawn Patrol found her on our territory this morning. Firepaw?"
Firepaw walked forward, then explained: "I was on that Patrol with my mentor Rockheart, Reedheart and his apprentice Sandpaw. When we reached the border, we all smelled WindClan stronger than usually, and also blood. I was the first to find the kit. She had injuries on her belly. I don't know from where." He ignored the gasps and continued: "I know a bit about herbs too, so while Sandpaw went to get Splashwhisker and Spottedpaw, Rockheart and Reedheart helped me take care of her. She's in ThunderClan camp now."
He stepped back and before any WindClan cat could say anything, Spottedpaw stood in front of the patrol and spoke with a loud and clear voice.
"I'm Spottedpaw, Splashwhisker's apprentice. The kit is fine and she will recover. But Splashwhisker says she can lie on her stomach or walk for the next half moon or her injuries will break up again. We're here so you can come and pick the kit up from our camp. And Splashwhisker also asks for you medicine cat to come so he can show Hazeclaw how he treated her injuries."
WindClan was still silent, then a soft voice choked out: "Who…who would attack my kit like that?"
Firepaw turned his head to the left, to see a small cream-coloured she-cat with a brown ear crouch behind Hazeclaw. "We don't know", whispered Songheart. Her voice was thick with sympathy and Firepaw saw how the cats that had crouched down and bared their fangs while they'd spoken relaxed. He smiled sadly. Songheart was a cat where you could always tell when she was truly sincere.
Crowstar sat in front of the group, his bright yellow eyes narrowed, before he suddenly nodded to himself and stood up. "Beesting, Hazeclaw, Grasswhisper, you will come with me. We'll get Palekit. Birdwing do you wish to join?" He turned to look at the cream-coloured she-cat that was obviously the kit's, Palekit's, mother. Birdwing nodded and she, as well as Hazeclaw, Beesting and a pale-brown tom with darker flecks in his pelt joined them. "Lead the way", told the black tom Songheart. Then he narrowed his eyes and added: "And pray to StarClan you don't lead us into a trap."
"We would never!", exclaimed Spottedpaw.
"The warrior code says that no warrior can neglect a kit in pain or danger, even if the kit is from a different Clan", agreed Hailpaw, his eyes blazing.
Firepaw twitched his ears impressed. ThunderClan's honour was something the apprentice could be quite passionate about it seems. That was good. Hailpaw now just needed to put the passion he showed now to good use during his training.