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A Heartbeat

Author: Silver
Status: Finished
Preceding: None
Succeeding: None
Spellcheckers: ...
Snowfall is a beautiful newly-made warrior. Her mother has been murdered, and the disappearances throughout she clans is making the air around Snowfall tense and filled with questions. Will she be able to uncover the truth, or will she die in a quick heartbeat?


PrologueEdit

The heat radiating from the volcano was extreme. There was no life on this volcano; a few dead trees here and there. Bones beginning to chip were scattered around the volcano's side. There was no sense of calm here, only anxiety and negativity. The fierce feeling cats got when they came here was intense, mixing up their emotions, and playing with them as if they were toys.

The thick-furred brown tom on the volcano was shivering, but not with cold. With fear. His amber eyes were widened, and his tail was tucked between his legs as he stood, waiting for his companion to appear so they could leave. The volcano rumbled and some magma flew out. The tom took this as a signal.

When will he get here? The tom thought, anxiously looking around to try and catch a glimpse of his companion. Suddenly, some bones rolled down, passing the fear-stricken tom, making him jump. He looked up and sighed with relief.

"Finally," he breathed and made his way past the bones. "What took you so long?" The brown tom's partner was next to three shriveled trees, engulfing him in a shadow with a volcano spitting magma into the air in the background.

The hidden cat gave an evil laugh. "It's been taken care of, Duskpelt, you needn't worry. The Ground Dwellers are simply satisfied with my sacrifice. But..." His voice was hard, scary, really. The thick-furred brown tom reached his hidden partner and uneasily sat on the hot, dry volcano side.

"But what?" The tom asked. "But, the Ground Dwellers want a new sacrifice. A younger one. Blood related." The hidden cat responded coolly.

"Wait, you sacrificed every one of your family!" Stated the brown cat. His amber eyes sparked with curiosity. He cocked his head and opened his mouth to question the cat, then snapped it shut and widened his eyes. "The only last member..." The hidden cat finished the sentence:

"Is my daughter."

Chapter 1Edit

"Snowfall! Snowfall! Snowfall!" The Clan cheered Snowfall's new warrior name on as she gratefully bowed her head. She looked up at her leader, Wolfstar, who was also her father. The dark gray, almost black, tom nodded his head. Wolfstar wasn't much of a father, more like an evil leader who no one dared to contradict. He didn't treat cats fairly, but Snowfall, being his daughter, was sort of an exception. She was envied, she got first rank to many things.

The clan began to split away from the ThunderClan clearing, until Snowfall was left. The sky was turning yellow, orange, red, and the sun was setting on the horizon. The snow-white she-cat walked towards the gorse tunnel, where she would sit vigil for her warrior ceremony.

Snowfall squeezed through the tunnel, exiting out easily on the other side. She yawned and sat down, with her tail wrapped neatly around her paws. Snowfall was excited about the fact that she was a warrior; it was every kit's dream.

But almost every kit could live this dream with both their parents. Snowfall felt a pang in her heart. Her mother, Bluefrost, disappeared a few days after Snowfall became an apprentice. Moons past, and nobody could find her, not even the Clan's best tracker, Hollypool.

As the crickets began to chirp, Snowfall remembered her days in the nursery. The fern den smelled of warmth and milk, and her mother's thick fur at night would keep her cozy. The soft downy feather used to line the moss beds was fun to play with, even alone.

Her mother's ferny scent was comforting and familiar to Snowfall. But now, she could no longer stick her muzzle into thick, soft, blue-gray fur. No longer look into the gray eyes of her mother. Nor would she be able to play with those downy feathers.

The air dropped and a cool breeze stirred the darkening forest. Nocturnel animals walked about, their eyes gleaming when they turned to look at Snowfall.

Bluefrost never appeared again, and traces of her blood were found near the WindClan border. Wolfstar had told everyone in ThunderClan that WindClan probably killed Bluefrost, and everyone believed him. ThunderClan had developed the biggest hatred for the lithe Clan.

Now, Snowfall flexed her claws and dug them deep into the soft ground beneath. The moon rose above the treetops, filling the forest with a dull light. The light shone on Snowfall, making her look like a pale silver.

Snowfall sighed as she remebered her mother. Was it too much to ask to StarClan for a clue about her whereabouts? She didn't think so. The white warrior straightened herself up and skimmed all around her. Not a sign of danger disturbed the peaceful forest.

Snowfall yawned and blinked her eyes several times, so that she wouldn't sleep. She was supposed to be guarding the camp.

Suddenly, a stirring in a clump of bushes nearby alerted Snowfall. She arched her back, and her fur puffed out, making her look twice her size. With her long legs, she looked like a tall giant.

A flash of familiar brown fur sparked Snowfall's interest. It was Duskpelt.

Chapter 2Edit

Dawn broke through the sky, and the sky turned pink and purple. Snowfall yawned and waited for her former mentor to come and tell her her vigil was over.

The gorse tunnel shook and Jaggedfang's gray tabby face popped out.

"Hey, Snowfall, vigil's over." He meowed with a smile. His jagged tooth stood out in his smile, but this didn't at all alarm Snowfall. Jaggedfang might look evil, but he was a truly great cat, and a good hunter at best. The senior warrior was an excellent mentor, and taught Snowfall with pacience and enthusiasm. He was amazingly sweet, too.

"Thanks, Jaggedfang." Snowfall happily streched and followed her old mentor into camp.

The gloomy feel in ThunderClan's camp has been there since Wolfstar took his position as leader. He was evil, but had amazing battle tactics that were useful for winning battles. He's not that bad, Snowfall thought.

The camp was blossoming with life as cats padded out of their dens, and into the clearing to see if they were on any patrols. Duskpelt was in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, yowling out names and making last-minute changes.

Snowfall scrunched up her face as she remembered seeing Duskpelt's thick, brown fur weaving through the underbrush last night. Snowfall didn't recall hearing anything but him, and as far as Snowfall knew, he wasn't to go anywhere. The young, slender, white she-cat decided not to speak to him about it, but keep a close eye on the senior deputy.

"Hey, Snowfall, up for a border patrol?" Duskpelt called from the middle of the sea of cats. Snowfall yawned and nodded. "Great, your going with Russetpelt, Silverspots, and Sorrelpaw." The new white warrior skimmed the clearing, looking for her patrol, and spotted the three cats gathering together near the gorse tunnel. Going back there, again...

Russetpelt, a russet-colored she-cat, was patiently waiting for Snowfall to arrive. Silverspots was giving herself a quick groom before leaving, and Sorrelpaw was eagerly bouncing up and down.

"Great, StarClan, Snowfall, you're a warrior!" exclaimed Snowfall's old denmate. "How does it feel?"

"It feels like I'm getting old," Snowfall joked and playfully nudged Sorrelpaw aside. The young apprentice became an apprentice a mere three moons ago, and was clearly confused about Snowfall's response.

"I don't want to feel old..." The tortoiseshell she-cat commented.

Snowfall gave a mrrow of amusement. "I'm only kidding! You take thing's too seriously, Sorrelpaw." Sorrelpaw blushed, and turned her head away from the three warriors.

"Right, let's go," Russetpelt flicked her tail and disappeared through the gorse tunnel. Silverspots followed, then Snowfall, then Sorrelpaw. Awesome, my first patrol as a warrior! Snowfall let out an excited squeak, making Russetpelt stop and turn around. Her amber eyes rolled as she realized the sound was coming from Snowfall. The white warrior's pelt burned and her cheeks grew hot. Sorry.

The patrol silently made their way near the border of RiverClan and WindClan. As the patrol neared WindClan, Snowfall caught a glimpse of the hole in the ground, the one that led to ShadowClan territory. We have got to fix that before we get an invasion!

Russetpelt led the cats to the WindClan border. She ordered them to mark it. Snowfall did as was told and was about to mark the border, when a familiar scent wafted through her nostrils.

Duskpelt.

Chapter 3Edit

Duskpelt? What was thick-furred, brown tom doing near the WindClan border? The scent was clearly from late in the night, and was mixed with wild garlic. Probably to hide his scent. Obviously, the ThunderClan deputy didn't do a very good job in rolling in the garlic. Snowfall widened her gorgeous green eyes as she realized he might have had escaped from camp while Snowfall was on patrol, then, came to the WindClan border and crossed it!

The white she-cat opened her mouth to speak, but snapped it shut. How could she rat on the deputy? For all Snowfall knew, it could have been an important mission Wolfstar had assigned Duskpelt. Something secretive, something the Clan shouldn't know about.

"Yes, Snowfall, have something to say?" Silverspots inquired, noticing Snowfall's opened mouth before she closed it. Snowfall growled low, and narrowed her eyes at Silverspots. The silver tortoiseshell she-cat might be beautiful on the outside, but she was a real snotty brat on the inside. Images sped through Snowfall's head as she remembered that Silverspots was taking interest in Wolfstar, trying to win over his heart, but miserably failing. Obviously the she-cat wanted to be the most important she-cat in the Clan. She loathed Snowfall.

"Nothing," Snowfall snapped at her and quickly marked the border. "Can we go now?"

"Why in such a hurry?" Silverspots ventured. Snowfall hissed.

"I'm just tired, you nosy brat!" Snowfall hissed loudly.

"Hey!" Russetpelt snapped. The senior warrior's amber eyes flared. "Snowfall, you know the descent among the ranks is out of order."

Snowfall flinched as she remembered the last cat to ever disrespect an older cat. Poor Ripplestripe, he had been cut off of food for four days, turning as skinny as a twig. Whoever dared feed him, would have to suffer a moon without food.

Russetpelt relaxed and chuckled a bit. "However, considering Silverspots is the most annoying cat to have ever been born into this Clan, I won't tell." The russet-colored she-cat winked at Snowfall.

Silverspots scoffed and angrily followed Russetpelt and Sorrelpaw back to the ravine. Sorrelpaw was trying not to laugh as her mentor argued with Russetpelt.

Snowfall, glad that she was not going to suffer any punishments from her father, looked over her shoulder at the border. It still bugged her knowing Duskpelt crossed Clan borders, even if he was on a secret mission. She cocked her head as she followed the patrol. What was going on with Duskpelt? First, the escape over night, now, the crossing of borders?

Where there bees in his brain?

Chapter 4Edit

The patrol arrived at camp silent, enrolled in their own thoughts and worries. Snowfall was so oblivious to things around her, she almost knocked into the thorn bush near the gorse tunnel.

"Watch it, Snowfall!" a voice yowled behind Snowfall. Now snapped into the real world, Snowfall turned and looked over her shoulder. An unusually spotted figure was proudly standing a fox-length away from the snow-white warrior. Leopardblaze calmly padded in front of Snowfall.

"You all right? You seem distracted." Leopardblaze commented and sniffed Snowfall's face. The she-cat widened her eyes and her ears burned. She felt a flutter in her chest, and her heart skipped a beat. Leopardblaze, the handsome unusually spotted tomcat, was in fact Snowfall's secret lover. She was deathly in love with him.

This interaction with her lover made Snowfall's fur prick, and her belly fill with wild butterflies.

"I-I'm fine, really. Just a bit tired. I haven't slept the whole day since my vigil was over." Snowfall hesitantly responded, somewhat telling the truth. She was, in fact, very tired. But, Snowfall wasn't going to reveal her knowing of Duskpelt's trespassing on other territories, and sneaking into the night. She just couldn't trust anyone, yet, with this kind of information. What if it wasn't a mission by Wolfstar, and because of her, Duskpelt was fataly punished?

"'Kay," Leopardblaze shrugged. "Need anything, I'm here." He whispered in her ear with a quick lick. Snowfall gave a small jump followed by a squeak. Leopardblaze was heading towards the apprentices' den, speaking lowly with his apprentice, Spiderpaw. The long-legged black apprentice nodded and escaped into the small den that belonged to his sister and him.

With nothing to do, and the sun slowly setting, Snowfall tiredly trudged slowly towards the fern den that served as the nursery. Small squeaking sounded from the den, and the comforting smell of warmth and milk wafted into Snowfall's nostrils, stirring memories.

Soft whispering sounded from the den, too. The queens, Dawnstreak and Rainfall, were huddled together, their backs turned on their kits.

"Wolfstar's been escaping into the nights." Dawnstreak whispered.

"Can't be, he doesn't even leave his den in the day!" Rainfall protested. She flinched as she felt a pain in her stomach. Snowfall looked at the fluffy gray she-cat. Her belly was swollen like tonight's moon, and Needleclaw, the ThunderClan medicine cat, had predicted about four kits in her belly.

Snowfall's memory sparked as she remembered tonight was the Gathering. Wolfstar hadn't picked anyone yet, but Snowfall was almost sure Yarrowfang would go. The bitter, scarred white tom was Wolfstar's most loyal cat next to Duskpelt.

"All cats of ThunderClan, gather around the High Rock!" A voice boomed through the camp. Snowfall turned away from the nursery and saw that Wolfstar was sitting on top of the rock in the middle of camp. Cats streamed out of their dens, and sat together in the clearing.

A shuffle in the nursery den next to Snowfall made her turn. Maplekit and Nettlekit, Dawnstreak's kits, rushed out of the ferns. "Clan meeting! Clan meeting!" Maplekit shrilled.

Nettlekit let out excited shrieks as he followed his sister to the crowd of cats. Dawnstreak's tortoiseshell face popped out and her calm face scrunched up in an annoyed frown. "Maplekit and Nettlekit, get back here right now!" She growled to the kits. Nettlekit flicked his ears, showing his mother he had heard her, but was porpously ignoring her.

Maplekit was further ahead of her brother, already disappearing into the sea of cats clustered around the clearing. It wasn't hard to find the light brown tabby she-cat. All cats jumped as she squeezed underneath them, and hissed and spat at the kit.

Dawnstreak let out an annoyed growl and rolled her blue eyes. She padded rapidly towards the crowd, and weaved through them swiftly. She found Maplekit and picked the kit up by the scruff. The kit growled and hissed, trying to escape her mother's jaws. It was no use, for Dawnstreak quickly popped into the nursery, with Nettlekit quickly following behind.

Chapter 5Edit

Snowfall shook her head and suppressed a laugh as she calmly walked over to the crowd of cats. Whispers ran through them as quick as the wind, talking about Maplekit, gossiping about other Clans, and suggesting cats for the Gathering tonight.

Snowfall looked up into the sky as she sat down next to Rosepetal, a pleasant pinkish she-cat. She was so sweet, many said she was created with honey. Snowfall thought the idea was ridiculous. How was a cat made of honey? However, Rosepetal's personality sure did seem like honey.

"Hey, Snowfall," Rosepetal greeted with a cheerful smile. Her joy was contagious, making Snowfall give a great smile, showing her teeth.

"So, who do you think's going to the Gathering tonight?" Rosepetal inquired softly. Snowfall thought for a moment, then got it.

"Well, Yarrowfang is definatly going. Maybe you, Leopardblaze, Hollypool, Marshstep, and Firetail. Maybe Spiderpaw, too." Snowfall sighed as she remembered she was the newest warrior, just made one today, and her chances of going to the Gathering were very slim.

"Maybe you, Snowfall. After all, you are Wolfstar's daughter. He wouldn't not take you to one Gathering." Rosepetal added, nudging Snowfall gently. "You're special."

"Me being Wolfstar's daughter doesn't change his strict rules. I'm not special, I'm just another one of his ThunderClan cats. Him and I don't share much of a connection anyway." Snowfall dully looked down at her paws. She scuffed the ground and dug up a smell green plant.

"Well, there is always hope, isn't there?" Rosepetal meowed as she dug the green plant back up. "Hope is something this Clan is need of."

Comforted with her friend's words, Snowfall purred and licked Rosepetal's cheek. The pinkish she-cat giggled and snapped to attention when Wolfstar yowled loudly.

"Cats of ThunderClan, after our small incident with an annoying kit, I would be happy to announce the cats for the Gathering." He spat out the word happy as if it were something he didn't have.

It was true, though. Wolfstar's life wasn't filled with much delight. With Bluefrost's death, and his family being mysteriously murdered or disappearing, he was pretty much living in a life of bitterness and hate. Remembering her mother, a stream of tears flowed down Snowfall's face, staining her snow-white face.

"Yarrowfang, Rosepetal, Leopardblaze, Sorrelpaw, Cederpelt, Mattedfur, and Snowfall." With a flick of his tail, he jumped off the High Rock and padded towards the gorse tunnel. He set his almost black body down and waited for the called cats to gather. Astonished that she was picked, Snowfall followed Rosepetal to the gathering cats.

Rosepetal quickened her pace and met with Cederpelt, a gray she-cat with white paws, who was also Rosepetal's sister. Sorrelpaw was happily bouncing around Leopardblaze's paws. Yarrowfang was next to Wolfstar, Duskpelt on his other side. Snowfall flattened her ears as she nervously began to follow the patrol out of camp.

Leopardblaze moved next to her, matching her step by step. "Hey," he breathed. Snowfall nervously nodded her head. She took in Leopardblaze's scent: oak trees, squirrels, and a lot of Sorrelpaw. Probably her jumping around him.

"So, ya nervous?" Leopardblaze asked awkwardly.

Snowfall gave a small chuckle. "Is it obvious?"

"A bit."

The two laughed and walked side-by-side until they reached the Gathering place: Four trees. The four great oaks stood proudly in the moonlight, and their shadows loomed down on the cats below them.

"Here we are," Leopardblaze announced. Snowfall turned to look at him, his unusually spotted self, and instead stared into his deep amber eyes. They were deep, making you feel like you were sweeping into them.

"Listen, Snowfall, I've been meaning to tell you something..." He went on. Snowfall cocked her head and motioned him to continue.

"It's something I've felt since you were an apprentice. I don't know. It's something strong. Like, my heart beats so fast when you're near me. I think I..." Snowfall never got to know what he thought. Wolfstar angrily called for her, and Leopardblaze and Snowfall were seperated

Chapter 6Edit

Snowfall lowered her head and trudged to where her father was. She stopped in front of him and looked up at him. She stared into his flaring amber eyes. They were streaked with annoyance, and flared with anger.

"What have I told you about getting a mate, Snowfall?" He growled and, while no one was looking, lashed at her face. Snowfall gasped and tried to dodge, but was too slow. Claw met flesh, as Wolfstar's claws slashed her cheek. The dark gray tom angrily sighed and left Snowfall on the ground. The white she-cat was bleeding from her cheek, and the hard blow knocked her on the ground.

Another thing about Wolfstar: he prevented Snowfall from falling in love. It's as if he's preventing her from even showing her true emotions towards the one true cat. The one cat she wished to start a family with. The one cat that truly, emotionally, was there for her. This cat was called Leopardblaze, an unusually spotted tom with the most dashing green eyes.

She quickly followed her Clan to Fourtrees, entering and noticing they were the third Clan to have arrived. The only missing Clan was RiverClan.

The clearing was flooded with cats from the three Clans. The swift and agile WindClan cats were beginning to mix in with the Clans. The dark and mysterious ShadowClan cats were speaking with ThunderClan. The loyal and brave ThunderClan spoke with one and other. Apprentices were seperating from their Clans and huddling together under an oak tree. The elders were gossiping about the Clans near the Great Rock. Warriors were exchanging greetings with one and other and meeting with familiar faces. And the medicine cats were speaking to each other about remedies and medical stuff.

Snowfall was suddenly taught. She didn't really fit in anywhere. She wasn't an apprentice anymore, so that was out of the question. She was no graying elder. And the warriors, she wasn't used to them. Some were actually very hostile towards new cats. And medicine cats... no way.

Padding slower now, Snowfall caught a familiar eye. It was Sloepaw, a ShadowClan apprentice.

"Hey, Snowpaw!" Sloepaw called over the cats and beckoned the newly-made warrior towards the apprentices' group. Reluctantly, Snowfall padded towards there, seeing Bouncepaw, a WindClan apprentice.

"Hey, Sloepaw." Snowfall nodded in greeting. Sloepaw happily jumped up and rubbed against Snowfall's long legs. "By the way, it's Snowfall now." Snowfall added and puffed out her chest. Bouncepaw widened his eyes.

"No way! Then, you should probably leave; this are is for apprentices only." The gray and white tom shooed Snowfall away, making her feal uneasy. Her green eyes flashed with hurt, and was turning to leave, when Sloepaw stepped in front of her.

"Bouncepaw, you should leave. This place is only for mature apprentices." Sloepaw snapped and motioned for Bouncepaw. Bouncepaw opened his mouth to retort, but shut it and dashed away from the apprentices.

"Stupid pea-brain." Sloepaw murmered and glanced at Snowfall. "So, how's life?" She asked.

"It's alright. Nothing too exciting really."

"That's nice."

A yowl sounded, and RiverClan dashed into the clearing. The air filled with the scent of fish, and Snowfall could see a bunch of cats flinch at their scent. She noticed the two apprentices, Lilypaw and Weaslepaw, coming towards them, but then a yowl sounded from the Great Rock.

"Cats of the Clans," Thistlestar, ShadowClan's leader, yowled. "ShadowClan is doing well. We have have a new litter of kits, and one of our senior warriors, Ryefang, has mysteriously disappeared." The spiky-furred gray tom cast a vicious glance at the WindClan cats, and many of them rose up to argue. WindClan's leader, Harestar, signaled for them to sit, and nodded her head at Thistlestar.

"Thank you, Thistlestar, for that nice review on your Clan. Well, WindClan has had no trouble whatsoever." She nodded to the RiverClan leader, Rushstar, who took his place.

But Snowfall wasn't listening, because she was looking at Wolfstar, who was grinning evilly.

Chapter 7Edit

The Gathering was over, but the picture of Wolfstar grinning evilly was still present in Snowfall's mind. What was he grinning about? Nothing at all was funny, and why the evil face? Had he done something? Then, Snowfall's thoughts snapped to Duskpelt's strange trips over the border. Does it have something to do with that?

--

The patrol reached the camp, and all retreated to their dens. All but Snowfall. The white she-cat stayed behind, and his behind a tall tree. The patrol hadn't noticed, so she stayed there until she was certain they had left. Her plan was to wait for Duskpelt to come.

As if on cue, Duskpelt's brown body appeared, and silently passed Snowfall by. She narrowed her eyes and crouched on the ground following with a reasonable amount of space between them. Snowfall quickly padded over dead leaves, being extra careful not to step on one. Her eyes were growing heavy, and her paws were tired after a whole day of no resting.

Duskpelt continued to journey, never stopping for a moment. Snowfall grew anxious as the Duskpelt led her near the WindClan border. The thick-furred deputy hesitated for a moment when he reached the border. Snowfall lay still as a log watching Duskpelt. Cross, cross! She urged in her head. Duskpelt sighed and jumped over the border, running the rest of the way.

Snowfall dashed over the border and kept an easy pace behind Duskpelt. He suddenly turned, and Snowfall jumped into a long patch of grass. She thought he had caught her, but to Snowfall's astonishment, he kept going.

"It's just you, Duskpelt. Just sacrifice this cat, and go home." He whimpered and padded on. Snowfall sighed and continued to follow the deputy. It nagged her, though, what Duskpelt said about "sacrificing a cat". What was that supposed to mean?

The moon was swollen, and the stars blinked in the night sky. Not a cloud lay in sight, and the smell of the moorland was nice to Snowfall. Duskpelt veered right, which surprised Snowfall. She thought the deputy was heading for Highstones. She followed, and was led to a long patch of grass. The smell of blood overwhelmed her, and cat was mixed with it.

Duskpelt sighed and stuck his head in the long grass. He took out his head, with a cat in his jaws.

Chapter 8Edit

Snowfall was about to gasp, but snapped her jaws. She couldn't risk being caught. Duskpelt dragged the body. The cat was familiar... maybe she was a cat Snowfall met at a Gathering. The cat was a female, for sure, and she had black-tipped ears, one white paw, and a white underbelly. She was brown, too.

Then it hit her.

Ryefang!

Snowfall ran silently behind Ryefang and Duskpelt. A trail of blood was forming where Ryefang was dragged, making it easy for Snowfall to follow as the two cats grew farther and farther apart from Snowfall. The moonlight lit the way, making the blood shine under the light.

Snowfall reached the border, and jumped out of WindClan territory. She smelled more blood, and followed the trail.

After about thirty minutes, Snowfall reached a stop. She had reached a large volcano, that cats feared because it could errupt at any moment. Duskpelt dragged Ryfang up the volcano, almost to the mouth.

Ryefang shakily stood up, her head covered with bruises and scratches. As was the rest of her body.

"Please, no." She pleaded and flattened her ears. Her dark green eyes widened, and her tail was tucked between her legs. Duskpelt stood firmly in front of her, swaying his thick tail side to side.

"Sorry, Ryefang, but it's been decided by him. Besides, the Ground Dwellers need some sacrifice before the extreme one." Duskpelt took a step forward, making Ryefang yip and step back, making her stand on the edge. The brown she cat looked over her shoulder at the mouth of the volcano. Magma spit from down there, and Ryefang's eyes widened even more.

"Please," she squeaked looking back at Duskpelt. "Have mercy."

"Too late," With a quick screech, Duskpelt dashed and slit Ryefang's throught wide open. A sickening cry filled the air, making Snowfall gasp loudly. Ryefang's eyes turned white as she fell into the volcano. It rumbled, and lava spit into the sky. This is ridiculous! Snowfall turned tail and ran back to the forest. She tried hard to run fast, she didn't want to end up like Ryefang.

It was a long run back to the Clans, and Snowfall's heart raced. What was she going to do? Duskpelt, it was obvious now, was the cause of all the murders around the Clans! Wolfstar's family, Bluefrost, Ryefang, two WindClan warriors, a RiverClan apprentice... It was all so clear now.

She had to tell Wolfstar! As Snowfall raced to the ThunderClan territory, she pictured Duskpelt being severely punished. Wolfstar would surely kill him, have him exiled... or worse. Thrown into the volcano alive to avenge Bluefrost's death.

Chapter 9Edit

The moon was still high in the air by the time Snowfall had reached ThunderClan territory. She gasped to breathe, and her lungs felt like they were on fire. I have to get to ca- Her thoughts were cut out as the sound of a leaf crunching behind her made her stiff. Slowly, Snowfall turned her head, expecting to see a brown figure.

It was just a rabbit. Sighing with relief, Snowfall quickly padded to camp, into her den, and in her moss bed.

--

Her dreams were filled with horrible images of dead cats. Fiery cats with their flames licking the trees that brushed against their sides. The fire danced and crackled and the air filled with smoke, making it hard to breathe.

The long-legged snowy-white she-cat gasped when she woke. She sighed in relief when she noticed she was just in her den. I've got to tell Wolfstar, she thought and quickly groomed her fur neatly.

It was nearly dawn and the sky was turning pink and blue. Her clanmates stirred but did not wake. Entering her father's den, Snowfall noticed there was a hint of smoke in the den. She cocked her head in confusion. Suddenly, Snowfall caught Wolfstar's scent leading out of the den. Intent on reporting to her father about the incident last night, Snowfall sniffed the air and followed her father's trail out of camp. The ThunderClan leader's scent carried Snowfall towards Fourtrees then to WindClan's border. She stopped suddenly.

This is not happening! Was it possible Duskpelt kidnapped Wolfstar to sacrifice him to the Ground whatevers? Her green eyes widened, Snowfall rabidly shot across the border, across the wet moorland, and across the other border. Wolfstar's scent did not stop and Snowfall's heart beat faster when she realized her nightmare was coming true.

Her father was evil, Snowfall knew that, but was he evil enough to not be of importance to her? Snowfall's heart raced when she reached the volcano. A familiar dark gray, almost black pelt made her stop breathing.Wolfstar was on the edge of the volcano. His shadow cast a long dark figure.

"Wolfstar!" Snowfall yowled and ran over to her father. He lifted his face from the ground and stared at her, their eyes connecting.

"Snowfall?" He asked in dismay. Snowfall nodded and pushed her muzzle into his fur. It was crisp smelled smoky.

"It's all Duskpelt's fault! He killed Bluefrost, I know he did. I saw him kill Ryefang last night, right here. And it's only obvious that he caused the other murders as well!" She yowled to him over the rumbling of the volcano.

"Yes, yes... It... it makes sense, my daughter," He said, his words cool. Snowfall looked up at his face. Wolfstar deemed calm, not at all how she expected him to react. "The thing is, I already knew all of this."

"You what?" Snowfall screeched and pushed away from Wolfstar. The cat stood up and flexed his claws.

"Oh yeah, and I was the one who killed Bluefrost. / Actually, sacrificed her. Oh, the poor darling begged and pleaded for me to leave her alone, but who would want to anger the Ground Dwellers? Not me, of course, I'm a trustworthy cat who attends the rituals and, well, do some myself. All those murders, darling, were just rituals."

Snowfall's heart really did stop this time. How could he? How could someone be so cruel as to take someone's mother like that? Their mate...

"What else do you have to say, you monster?"

"Oh, like I have to throw you into this volcano. I need you to please my spiritual brothers and sisters. These demons have planted a seed in my soul that has grown into a fine plant that will be hard to destroy." He grinned evilly and slit his eyes.

Snowfall took a step back and shook her head. "No, no..."

"Yes, yes." A voice behind her made Snowfall jump and she whirled around. Duskpelt was behind her, and he had the same "demonic" expression plastered on his face.

"Sorry, Snowfall. You were a great cat, but I simply have more loyalty to the Ground Dwellers than I do you." Wolfstar shrugged and unsheathed his claws. "Time to die, Snowfall."

He launched himself into the air. Snowfall gasped and side-stepped. The leader landed on all fours behind her, but Duskpelt jumped on Snowfall. He scraped her face and bit down on her shoulder. The deputy's massive strength was impressive, and Snowfall lay squirming on the ground as she saw Wolfstar calmly make his way to Snowfall and Duskpelt.

"It's for your own good," He hissed as he bent down to make the fatal bite, but Snowfall clawed his eye. She quickly clawed Duskpelt's exposed belly, and let the two toms yowl in pain. Duskpelt caught her eye and snarled. He dashed towards her and knocked her, but Snowfall just moved a few steps back. With her long legs, Snowfall ran with Duskpelt on her tail.

Wolfstar suddenly appeared in front of her.

"It's two against one, Snowfall, give up and e'll make it easy for you." He growled and Snowfall felt a pain shoot through her tail. Looking back, she saw Duskpelt's teeth clenched on her white tail, blood oozed on the floor and specked her white coat with blood.

She turned back to Wolfstar to see him opening his mouth. His sharp teeth glistened with the fiery flames. Fearing for her life, Snowfall scraped his face again, and lashed out on Duskpelt. The deputy fell backwards and blood splattered everywhere.

She hit him square in the chest.

A trickle of blood leading from his mouth pooled around Duskpelt's jaws. He was dead. Wolfstar's amber eyes showed no emotions and just stared at Snowfall.

"You are strong. It's a shame we have to waste it." Angry, Snowfall jumped on him, pinning her leader on the floor. He tried to break away from Snowfall, but her claws were already digging into his shoulders and his throat was exposed. With a tear dripping from her face, Snowfall bit down. Wolfstar's eyes went blank and he went limp.

Snowfall jumped off and broke down. It was so hard to kill her father that way, but then again, he had killed her mother with no remorse.

--

"It's for your own good," Snowfall hissed as she pushed Wolfstar's and Duskpelt's bodies into the rumbling volcano. It hissed, then ceased. A great weight was lifted from her shoulders, and Snowfall gave a sigh of relief.

She had avenged the deaths of so many innocent cats and stopped the possible future massacres of cats that were destined to stay alive. She had saved them from an evil cat.

Snowfall had saved them from a Ground Dweller.

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