It All Begins
Series: A Daughter's Revenge
Allegiances: A Daughter's Revenge Series Alliances
|Hazelkit was a happy outgoing kit. She and her father, Talonclaw, share a special bond that can't ever be broken. Hazelkit loves her father and tries to accept his new mate, Snowpetal. Her mother dies of greencough and has no siblings. The last thing she wants is to lose her father, her only will to go on living. But what happens when Talonclaw is brutally slaughtered in his own territory, betrayed by Snowpetal when she orders his murder. Hazelkit is enraged and begins her quest for revenge. Revenge that might cost Snowpetal's life.|
ProlougeEditA brown tom slithered through the undergrowth as he lead his patrol to the battlefield. He flicked his tail, telling his battle patrol to keep low and quite. The warriors did as was told and flattened themselves to the ground. Their dark pelts were perfect camouflage. The tom narrowed his eyes as he saw a flicker of movement across the old Thunderpath and flexed his claws, sinking them into the soft soil.
"I will not let you threaten my Clan or my kit," he vowed. His Clanmates didn't seem to hear him. Please, don't let them get to camp! he pleaded to StarClan. The dark sky was dotted with stars and filled the scene with some substance of light.
"Attack!" he yowled and hurtled himself across the clearing. Yowls of rage and pain split the air like a thorn in a pad. Cats flung themselves at their enemies, and pelted over to help their companions. The tom clawed an enemy warrior's muzzle then nipped his hind legs. The cat yowled in pain and bounded away from the brown tom.
The tom's amber eyes glinted in the faint moonlight and his fur was spattered with the blood of his enemies. A white she-cat appeared next to him.
"Snowpetal," he breathed as he took in his mate's scent. "We have to defeat these fox-hearted ShadowClan warriors and apprentices. For the sake of the Clan and Hazelkit." he turned and began to rip tufts of fur from a tortoiseshell apprentice.
Suddenly, he was caught off guard and fell with a thump as two large tabbies unbalanced him.
"Snowpetal!" he cried as he frantically tried to push off the stronger cats. But Snowpetal sat in the sidelines. Her green eyes glinted with happiness and she showed no intention of moving and rescuing her mate from the bloodthirsty ShadowClan warriors.
"Snowpe-" his cry for help was cut off as one of the tabbies lunged at his throat and bit down hard. Blood roared in his ears as he felt the sticky trickle of blood oozing out of the large gash in his throat. The other tabby began to claw his belly. Snowpetal kept on sitting and watching, as if watching a kit stalk and pounce on a leaf. Her green eyes were shining with amusement.
Why isn't she helping me? he asked himself. His energy began to fade as he lost more and more blood. His belly was fully open and his throat was gushing out blood like a waterfall.
"Oh Talonclaw," began Snowpetal. "To think I liked you when I was young."
Talonclaw knew his life was slipping away. The two ShadowClan tabbies' teeth glistened in the moonlight. They were sharp and specked with blood.
A pool of blood began to form along Talonclaw's body and he felt his life ebbing away.
Talonclaw, called a smooth, soft voice.
Petalwhisker? he asked. His mate Petalwhisker had died of greencough four moons ago.
Talonclaw, let go of your life. It is time for you to join me in StarClan.
No! Hazelkit still needs me! And my Clan.
Hazelkit is our kit, no? She is strong and good willed. She will cope as long as you believe that and let go of your life.
Fine. Talonclaw agreed with his former mate, mother of his kit, and closed his eyes, awaiting eternal sleep.
Talonclaw looked over at the cat he loved, the same one that betrayed him. The yowls and spitting of fury were fading away.
"Snowpetal, you will pay for this," he breathed.
Snowpetal's whiskers twiched in amuesment. "Oh, Talonclaw, you wish. ThunderClan will cope well without you. Bye-bye." With one last gasp of air, Talonclaw closed his eyes and followed Petalwhisker upwards towards Silverpelt, where one more star would join the sky.
Hazelkit flicked the moss ball over to Bramblekit. The dark tabby kit threw himself up into the air and landed softly on the moss ball.
"Nice catch!" yowled Hazelkit as she padded next to her foster brother.
"Thanks," purred Bramblekit. The kit rubbed his cheek against Hazelkit's flank. He was too small to reach her face. Littlekit came trotting out of the nursery.
"Can I play too?" inquired the small golden she-cat. Hazlekit nodded. Small mewling erupted from the nursery.
Snowpetal's kits! she told herself. Snowpetal was her father's new mate, but he had died four moons ago and Snowpetal had taken on a new mate, Redheart, to cover up her pain.
Now, her newest kits were squirming inside the nursery. Snowpetal had just given birth but Hazelkit was too bored to watch her go into labor.
"Here." Hazelkit snatched the ball from Bramblekit and flung it at Littlekit. "You two can play, but I want to look at Snowpetal's kits!" with that, Hazelkit pelted into the nursery. The air smelled musky and was mixed with milk scent.
"Are they here?" she asked. Her glossy dark tabby pelt shone softly in the sun's rays that entered through small gaps in the wall.
"Yes," answered Leafwhisker, her Clan's medicine cat. His apprentice, Whitepaw, was licking a small kit next to Snowpetal's belly.
"Can I see?" she asked, hoping the answer would be yes.
"Ok, but be very gentle," mewed Whitepaw as she stepped aside from the kit she was licking. Hazelkit's paws were trembling as she approached her new denmates. Snowpetal's flanks rose and fell as she slept. There were two small kits huddled next to her. One was a large black and white tom, and the other was a black spiky-furred she-cat.
"They're so cute!" she whispered loudly.
"Shh!" hissed Whitepaw. "Snowpetal's sleeping!"
"What are their names?" asked Hazelkit while sniffing the small bundles of fur.
"Snowpetal fell asleep as soon as she was finished pushing out the last one." Leafwhisker flicked his tail at the black she-cat.
Hazelkit poked the smallest kit, who began to squeak loudly.
"Don't poke her! You are much bigger than her and you might hurt her frail bones!" scolded a voice from behind Hazelkit.
Hazelkit turned to see Flowerpetal standing behind her. The tortoiseshell queen's blue eyes flared with anger. They suddenly turned soft.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to be harsh," she mewed. Flowerpetal nudged Hazelkit away from Snowpetal, the kits, and the medicine cats.
"Off you go! Bramblekit and Littlekit want to play a game with you!"
Flowerpetal was Hazelkit's foster mother, who had taken Hazelkit in when her mother had died of greencough. Flowerpetal had been expecting Bramblekit and Littlekit when that had happened.
Hazelkit ran and skidded to a halt next to Littlekit, who was being shown the hunter's crouch by Dawnpaw.
"Good, but you can't be swishing your tail like that. You have to keep it still and sticking out behind you so it won't rustle any ferns or plants," instructed Dawnpaw.
"I want to learn a battle move!" squeaked Bramblekit. Littlekit's golden pelt looked like fire in the afternoon sun, her blue eyes determined on getting the crouch right.
"I want to learn a battle move!" repeated Bramblekit. His tabby pelt bristled when Dawnpaw ignored him.
"I'll teach you a battle move!" offered Hazelkit. Bramblekit's pelt lay flat as he turned to look into Hazelkit's green eyes. His green ones shone with excitement.
"Let's do it!"
Bramblekit threw himself into the air and in mid-air, spun around, landing perfectly on all fours.
"That was amazing!" exclaimed Hazelkit. She never thought Bramblekit could master such a hard battle move. She had to spend almost two moons practicing the move, and Bramblekit had perfected it in one day!
Bramblekit's eyes shone with pride as he padded next to Hazelkit. When they arrived, Snowpetal was sunning herself outside and her kits were suckling.
"Hi Snowpetal!" she greeted her father's last mate. Snowpetal lifted her head. Her eyes were dull as she looked at Hazelkit.
"Hello, Hazelkit." she mewed weakly.
Hazelkit's tail dropped as she sensed hatred and disgust coming from Snowpetal like a wave. Redheart stood behind her. His eyes were narrowed and were staring right at Hazelkit.
Do they hate me? she asked herself. Her dark tabby pelt bristled. No, Snowpetal likes me.
"Come on, Hazelkit! Littlekit is over at the elders' den! Cloudnose is about to tell us about to tell us a story!" cried Bramblekit. Before Hazelkit could say anything, Bramblekit pelted towards a fallen tree that was the elders' den.
Hazelkit ran to catch up to her friend. His muscles rippled as he ran through the clearing.
When Hazlekit finally caught up, Bramblekit was patiently sitting just outside the entrance. "I wouldn't enter untill you arrived, Hazelkit." purred Bramblekit. His eyes shone with affection.
As the two kits padded side by side into the elders' den, Littlekit was already sitting beside Cloudnose.
"Come, come, young ones, your sister has been waiting for some time," mewed Cloudnose. His sightless eyes stared ahead. He had a sharp nose and good hearing abilities.
Bramblekit squealed with joy as he sat down. Hazelkit sat with her tail neatly over her paws.
"Hello, kits!" cried a soft voice from behind Hazelkit. Hazelkit turned and saw Mingleberry staring down at her.
"Hi, Mingleberry!" cried Hazelkit as she leaped up. Mingleberry crouched down and gave Hazlekit a slobbery lick on the cheek. She did the same to Bramblekit.
"Yuck!" squeaked Brmablekit. He tried to push away from Mingleberry's slobbery tounge.
The ginger elder chuckled with delight.
"Who's here?" croaked a voice from beside Cloudnose. Fernheart appeared. The stiff elder slowly lay down next to Cloudnose."Hi, Fernheart!" greeted Littlekit who began to purr loudly.
"I shall begin." started Cloudnose as he cleared throat and began his story. "A long time ago, there were three powerful Clans of cats. LionClan, TigerClan, and LeopardClan. LionClan was the most powerful Clan..."
Hazelkit wasn't paying attention. She noticed Snowpetal stand and stretch from her place in the sun. Her snowy tail was tempting to pounce on. Hazelkit got into the hunter's crouch and began to creep forward toward Snowpetal's tail. When she was close enough, Hazelkit launched herself into the air and landed on Snowpetal's tail.
Snowpetal screeched as Hazelkit bit down.
"You fur-ball!" she cried and whipped around, glaring furiously at Hazelkit. "Get off!" she hissed angrily.
Shocked with the amount of anger Snowpetal was feeling, Hazelkit jumped off. Snowpetal's white tail was covered in dust and a trickle of blood came from a small bite mark. Hazelkit widened her eyes in shock. She didn't mean to hurt Snowpetal at all.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"You never do mean anything, do you Hazelkit?" with a snort of anger, Snowpetal left and entered the gorse tunnel, leading out of camp.
I was only playing, Hazelkit told herself, I didn't mean to.
Hazelkit then began to wonder why Snowpetal had left. Her two kits were mewling loudly, calling for their mother.
Why did she leave?
The dark tabby kit looked around to see if anyone was watching. Poppywhisker and Brightsoul were sharing tongues at the foot of the warriors' den. Leafwhisker and Whitepaw were placing herbs out to dry in the sun. Dustpaw and Dawnpaw were practicing battle training together. No one was paying attention.
Hazelkit dashed to the gorse tunnel. Snowpetal's scent was fresh. I'll follow her like that. the kit told herself. Hazelkit began to sniff around, suprised her nose was very sharp. Snowpetal's scent was getting stronger as she neared the Thunderpath. Why would she come here? She could be ran over! images of Snowpetal being run over and her kits having to cope without their mother filled Hazelkit's mind.
The oily and sticky scent of the Thunderpath made Hazelkit's eyes water. Suddenly, Hazelkit spotted Snowpetal. She was sitting on the side of the Thunderpath. Her tail was wrapped neatly around her paws.
Hazelkit was just about to jump up and call Snowpetal over, when two tabbies appeared from the other side of the Thunderpath. A monster whisked by but Snowpetal and the two tabbies didn't flinch.
Hazelkit grew scared and hid behind a dense bramble thicket. She crouched low, hoping Snowpetal and the tabbies, who smelled awfully disgusting, wouldn't see her.
"Snowpetal," began a ginger tabby. "Wy did you call us here?" he asked.
Snowpetal called them here?
"I just wanted to know if anyone caught me watching him die."
"Like we said at the Gathering," started the gray tabby sitting next to the ginger one. "No cat knows. ShadowClan doesn't believe any cat killed Talonclaw on purpose. They believe he was just cut by a bramble, or accidentally scratched ferociously."
Talonclaw died in battle four moons ago! What are they talking about?
"Ugh, whatever." Snowpetal began to lick her paw.
"Don't you miss him?" asked the gray tabby.
Snowpetal stopped licking and glanced up at the ShadowClan warrior.
"Please, Feralfang, who would miss him? He was nothing but a slave. I used him."
What? But you loved him!
"I hated that stupid piece of dung." growled Snowpetal.
You... you killed him. it all made sense now. Hazelkit's eyes widened until the whites began to show. She couldn't believe she had just heard that. Snowpetal killed her father. Hazelkit had been told he died in battle, but she never expected Snowpetal to cause his death.
"You betrayed him." Hazelkit growled to herself. "He loved you and you betrayed him."
A feeling of anger and hatred and the urge to kill anything that had to do with Snowpetal welled up inside her.
Revenge. Snowpetal, you will feel my wrath and you will pay. Hazelkit flexed her tiny claws and clawed the soil beneathe her pads. Hazelkit looked up at the darkening sky. Stars were begining to speck the sky. Hazelkit wondered which one of those many stars was her father. The cat she loved and the same one she vowed would never die. She already lost her mother, Petalwhisker. Now her father.
Don't worry, Talonclaw, Snowpetal will pay for what she did to us. Seperate us. She will die.
Hazelkit growled loudly, but not enough for Snowpetal and the two ShadowClan warriors to hear.
"I have to go, I have to newborn kits two care for." with that, Snowpetal trotted off back to camp. Hazelkit watched her go and followed her back.
In camp, Snowpetal was already settled inside the nursery with the two kits.
Hazelkit snuck back in closely behind Snowpetal. The dark tabby kit tried vainly to not let her hate and anger show.
Snowpetal went inside the bramble nursery. Hazelkit scampered over when Bramblekit appeared.
"Hey, Hazelkit!" he cried as he bounded over and skidded to a halt next to Hazelkit. "Lilystar has been looking all over for you. She's going to announce your apprentice ceremony!"
Hazelkit widened her eyes. She hadn't realized she was half as big as Dawnpaw and Dustpaw, the two apprentices.
Lilystar appeared beside Bramblekit. Her bright green eys were filled with delight.
"Oh, I was getting worried something happened to you!" the ThunderClan leader exclaimed.
Amberfang, the deputy, padded over. "Thanks StarClan your not harmed!" she exlaimed while licking the kit.
"Talonclaw would have been proud of you."
Amberfang was Talonclaw's sister, making her Hazelkit's kin. Lilystar was Talonclaw's and Amberfang's mother. That made her kin too.
"Let's go, all the cats are waiting for you." mewed Lilystar as she led Hazelkit to the edge of Highrock.
"Now that we have foound Hazelkit," began Lilystar when she jumped on Highrock. "we can continue with the ceremony."
"Until she has recieved her warrior name, this apprentice will be called Hazelpaw. Poppywhisker,"
The tortoiseshell warrior looked up when her name was called. Her blue eyes shone proudly as she walked up to Hazelpaw.
"you have proved to be an important warrior and I'm sure you'll tech Hazelpaw to follow in your paw steps."
Poppywhisker and Hazelpaw touched noses. Hazelpaw felt a flicker of excitment. I'm an apprentice! The anger she had felt only a few moments ago suddenly seemed to ebb away, replaced with excitment.
"Do you want to get started?" asked Poppywhisker. Hazelpaw shook her head.
"I want to see Flowerpetal first." Poppywhisker dipped her head and Hazelpaw sprinted towards the nursery.
"Congratulations, Hazelkit--I mean, Hazelpaw." Flowerpetal congratulated her foster daughter.
"Wow! Wow!" squeaked Littlekit as she danced around Hazelpaw.
"Will you tech me all the new battle moves?" quired Bramblekit. The dark tabby tom jumped around Hazelpaw.
"No way! She's going to teach me hunting tequniques!"
Bramblekit lunged at Littlekit and the two siblings began to play fight. Hazelkit chuckled with amusment. Then, I feeling of sadness struck her like lightning. She was going to miss the nursery and its milky scents. But there was one thing she wouldn't miss. Snowpetal. Hazelpaw saw the snowy-white queen licking her two kits' heads inside the nursery. Redheart was sleeping next to his mate. Just then, Sunfur, Flowerpetal's mate, appeared.
"Hi, Sunfur!" greeted Hazelpaw. Flowerpetal nodded her greeting and Bramblekit and Littlekit jumped up and done around their father.
"Congratulations, Hazelpaw." he mewed. His green eyes shone with sypmathy. "I remember when you were only just a wriggling kit cuddled next to Flowerpetal's belly."
"I know." breathed Hazelpaw as the memories of being taken cared by Flowerpetal flooded into her mind.
"At least you'll be on patrols with me." he mewed. Hazelpaw twiched her whiskers in amusement.
"Can we come too?" asked Littlekit. Her golden pelt turned to fire in the dimming sunlight. "I can help with hunting."
"And I can help with border skirmishes!" squeaked Bramblekit.
Sunfur's whiskers twiched with amusement. "Not until your apprentices."
"But that's three moons away!" grumbled Bramblekit.
"I can wait." mewed Littlekit while she curled up next to Flowerpetal.
Hazelpaw looked over her shoulder and noticed Poppywhisker waiting near the gorse tunnel. "We have the evening hunting patrol!"
Hazelpaw's paws twiched with excitment. She was finally going to hunt her own prey!
"Coming!" Hazelpaw happily hopped over to Poppywhisker.
This doesn't mean I won't forget to get my revenge, Hazelpaw told herself, I'll kill you Snowpetal, now that I'm an apprentice. I'll learn about things that can take a cat's life. Things I can use against you.
"Mouse dung!" cursed Hazelpaw as she missed her third mouse. Poppywhisker gave an annoyed sigh.
"Hazelpaw, I told you to keep light on your paws! You sound like a horde of bagders!" hissed Poppywhisker. Hazelpaw looked at her paws in dismay.
"I'm sorry." she grunted.
"'Sorry' doesn't catch any prey." hissed the tortoiseshell warrior. "Come on, let's try by the Great Sycamore. There's bound to be mice at this time of year." with a last flick of her tail, Poppywhisker trotted away towards the huge tree named the Great Sycamore.
Hazelpaw hissed and cursed a lot.
"Stupid Poppywhisker! Acting as if I have to make everything perfect. Stupid Snowpetal!" Hazelpaw was so angry, she thought she could take on all three Clans and beat every one of it's warriors. Suddenly, it hit her.
I should be learning things dangerouse to cats! Thay way, I can get Snowpetal out of my life! Hazelpaw grinned a murderouse grin and began to claw the ground, pretending it was Snowpetal's fluffy white fur.
"I hate you!" hissed Hazelpaw. A paw prodded her side, knowcking the new apprentice over.
"Are you trying to ignore everything I say today?" asked Poppywhisker.
I hate you too! thought Hazelpaw. The dark tabby apprentice thoroughly licked herself clean before following her mentor to the Great Sycamore.
"Remember what I've told you," mewed Poppywhisker. "be light on your paws and keep low. You know this hunting crouch better than your own paw, Hazelpaw, you can do this!" Satisfied with Poppywhisker's encouraging words, Hazelpaw tried her best at keeping low, steady, and light on her paws.
Suddenly, a leaf shook and Hazelpaw could detect the distinctive smell of a vole. Sure enough, she spotted the creature- a large fat one -just a few pawsteps ahead. You can do this. Hazelpaw reminded herself. Keep steady. Hazelpaw crept forward, so close she could stretch a paw and touch the vole. With one nervouse breathe, Hazelpaw jumped and landed on the vole. The fat prey squrimmed beneathe her, and Hazelpaw killed it with a swift bite to the neck.
"See?" mewed Poppywhisker as she padded next to her apprentice. "I knew you could do it."
Okay, maybe I don't hate you that much.
A few more hunting crouches later, Hazelpaw emerged from the gorse tunnel with two mice, a starling, and the biggest vole she'd ever seen.
"Wow!" exclaimed Dustpaw as he trotted towards Hazelpaw. "I can't believe you caught that vole! May as well take it to Fernheart. She's been complaining about being hungry for ages." Dustpaw grabbed the vole and golloped towards the fallen tree on the other side of camp.
"You did an amazing job today, Hazelpaw, you deserve some rest." mewed Poppywhisker. Hazelpaw dipped her head in gratitude and bounded over to a clump of ferns. The apprentices' den.
"Hey, Hazelpaw!" mewed a voice from inside the den."
"Yes?" asked Hazelpaw as she eneterd the den. It was slightly dark, but Hazelpaw could make out a shape at the back of the den.
"I made a nest for you." mewed the voice. Hazelpaw instantly recognized it.
"Thanks, Dawnpaw." Hazelpaw dipped her head towards the older apprentice, who looked like a mini warrior.
"Will Lilystar make you a warrior?" quiered Hazelpaw as she sniffed her new bed. She missed the smell of milk.
"Dunno. Rockstorm says I might be ready in a few sunrises, though."
"Cool." Hazelpaw let out a yawn and curled up in her moss bed. "Goodnight, Dawnpaw."
Hazelpaw fiercly leaped at an invisible enemy in front of her. She felt it's blood spatter her pelt and fear scent come from him in waves. Hazelpaw kept fighting until one of the invisible enemy warriors spoke to her and poked her side. "Hazelpaw," it breathed. "Hazelpaw,"
"What?" asked Hazelpaw as she flexed her claws.
"Hazelpaw, wake up!"
Hazelpaw woke with a jump. Dustpaw was poking her flank.
"Stop it!" spat Hazelpaw.
"Sorry, but it's almost sunhigh and Poppywhisker wanted to do some battle training." Hazelpaw bolted up. At last, something I can learn and use to kill. Hazelpaw could already feel Snowpetal's blood speckling her paws. The white queens bewildered green eyes dimming as she lost her life. Then, Hazelpaw remembered the dream. It felt so real. The blood felt real.
Hazelpaw flexed her claws and dug them into her moss bed."
"Come on!" hissed Dustpaw as he exited the fern den.
Now jump into the air, twist in midair, and land on all fours clawing downward. Understand?" Poppywhisker was teaching Hazelpaw how to battle.
This is a sinch, thought the ThunderClan apprentice, these battle moves are too easy. Poppywhisker had been impresed with the new ThunderClan apprentice's fighting skills. Hazelpaw was an amazing fighter, natural born. This is the kind of power I want! she yowled in her mind.
Hazelpaw copied the move Poppywhisker showed her, and raked her claws down.
"Purfect." purred Poppywhisker. "I think it's time you fought with an apprentice instead of air." I jumped in excitment. Finally! she thought to herself. "Dustpaw! Thornpelt!" she called. At once, menotr and apprentice appeared from the shadows. Dustpaw grinned a crooked smile.
"This'll be easy." he smirked. In your dreams!
Dustpaw settled himself a few tail-lengths infront of Hazelpaw. His ginger tabby pelt glowed like fire.
"Now!" ordered Thornpelt. Dustpaw lunged at me, but I was to quick. I used my agility and quickly slithered behind him. He spun around, astonished he found me behind him, but I was already leaping onto his back. He clumsily stepped back. Dustpaw fell and rolled, but I had jumped off him and raked his ears.
Dustpaw yowled in pain but lunged himself towards me. The battle move! I jumped in the air and twisted, landing on his back cleanly. I slashed my claws and raked his back. The blood pounded in Hazelpaw's ears. This is like killing a blind mouse! Hazelpaw leaped off a few tail-lengths away, kicking up dust and temporarily blinding Dustpaw. He franticly blinked, trying to keep the dust away from his eyes. I narrowed mine and flashed through the cloud of dust. I appeared in front of his face and slashed my claws at his muzzle. He jerked back in pain and began to yowl in agony.
"Make it stop! She's hurting me!" he yowled. Thornpelt padded over to his apprentice. Hazelpaw's claws were still unsheathed.
"It's all right, Dustpaw." Thornpelt soothed his apprentice, smoothing out Dustpaw's ruffled fur.
"You did well, Hazelpaw." Poppywhisker praised. The tortoiseshell's eyes were widened enough to show the whites. Ha! I beat an older apprentice and I'm new to this! "Come on, I'll tell Lilystar how well you did. And Dustpaw, lets get you over to Leafwhisker and Whitepaw." Poppywhsiker signaled for the three ThunderClan cats to follower her back to the ravine.
"I'm glad to hear how well you did, Hazelpaw. But you nearly scared Dustpaw out of his mind." mewed Lilystar. Hazelpaw let out a hiss of annoyence. Why aren't you proud? I beat an older apprentice! You're just lecturing me! "You may leave now." mewed Lilystar. Poppywhisker and Hazelpaw dipped their heads and left the den under Highrock. The lichen smakced Hazelpaw's face as she stomped out of the den.
"You're very lucky to have been praised by your Clan leader," exlaimed Poppywhisker. "not many apprentices get the privalege." Whatever! She only scolded me for hurting stupid Dustpaw!
"Dawnpaw, I now name you Dawnheart. May you serve ThunderClan until your dying day." Lilystar jumped off Highrock and touched Dawnheart on the nose. The newly-made warrior licked her leader's shoulder. "Now to finish your ceremony, you will sit vigil and protect your Clan tonight."
"Dawnheart! Dawnheart! Dawnheart!" The Clan's cheering rang through the clearing. The dark gray she-cat held her head high and her amber eyes shone with pride. Just wait till I'm a warrior! Thought Hazelpaw. She could already imagine herself standing proud like Dawnheart was. Her clanmates cheering and calling her new name.
"Come now, Hazelpaw." mewed Flowerpetal, who was behind Hazelpaw. Hazelpaw snapped back into present time. Her clanmates were going into their dens. The moon hung high in the sky. Hazelpaw walked towards the clump of ferns known as her den. Inside, she curled up in her moss bed at the far side of the den. She lay her tail on her nose and closed her eyes.
"Thanks a lot, Hazelpaw! Because you gave me these seriouse wounds, I couldn't have been made a warrior with Dawnheart!" hissed Dustpaw as Hazelpaw brought in some more juniper berries for Leafwhisker and Whitepaw. The medicine cat and his apprentice were restocking for leaf-bare, which was only a moon away.
"Thank you, Hazelpaw, you have been a great help." praised Leafwhisker, not looking up from the chervil he was seperating.
Hazelpaw set the juniper berries down and padded away from the den. Stupid Dustpaw.
"Hazelpaw! Hazelpaw!" cried Bramblekit from the nursery. The tabby kit bobbed around Hazelpaw when she reached him.
"Yes?" she inquired.
"Can you play with me and Littlekit? We're bored out of our minds and Flowerpetal and Sunfur say that Snowpetal's kits are too young!" pleaded Bramblekit. His big green eyes bulged out. Hazelpaw purred loudly.
"Sure." she agreed.
I now name you Bramblepaw and Littlepaw. May StarClan light your path." Lilystar welcomed the newest apprentices to ThunderClan. Bramblepaw bobbed around Hazelpaw.
"Can you believe we're apprentices?" shrieked Bramblepaw. His sister was equally excited.
"I can't believe it! I'm so excited to know Ivyclaw is my mentor. He's so strong and brave!" Littlepaw's blue eyes were moony looking. Bramblepaw had gotten Rockstorm, now that Dustpaw was Duststorm. He had recovered from the wounds Hazelpaw gave him on her first day.
"You don't like Ivyclaw, do you?" asked Hazelpaw.
"No I don't!" snapped Littlepaw. Her eyes flaring, but still showed emotion.
"Then why do you stare at him with moony eyes?" prompted Hazelpaw. Littlepaw scoffed and bounded towards Ivyclaw, who was heading out on the sunhigh patrol.
Bramblepaw landed awkwardly on the mouse and killed it with a swift bite to the neck.
"How did I do?" he prompted. Hazelpaw cocked her head in confusion. That was a horrible move, she bit back the comment as they crept up onto her lips. Lay off! This is his first time out! she growled at herself.
"Did I do good?" asked Bramblepaw. His voice was filled with patience and calmness, as if he didn't care what the answer might be.
"Good, but you need to practice on the landing." reported Rockstorm. The dark cream she-cat's tail lay on her paws neatly. "Hazelpaw, would you like to demonstrate?"
Hazelpaw nodded and began to stalk an imaginary mouse. She jumped up and landed perfectly on the imaginary prey.
"Very good." praised Poppywhisker. Hazelpaw beckoned for Bramblepaw to try; the tabby apprentice copied Hazelpaw and made the landing perfectly.
"Good." mewed Rockstorm. "Now lets take the mouse back to camp. I'm sure Fernheart and the others will enjoy something." The hunting patrol padded back to the gorse tunnel. Hazelpaw was carrying a vole and thrush.
"Good catch." her praise was muffled by the prey she carried. Bramblepaw didn't say anything. His head and tail were dropping. His tail brushed against the ground, making dust fly around them.
"I think you did okay." she mewed.
Bramblepaw lifted his head and his green eyes lightened up. "Thanks." he breathed. Hazelpaw thought it was funny they both looked alike. "Hey, Hazelpaw, could I talk to you?"
Hazelpaw's head cocked but she called out to Poppywhisker. Poppywhisker had agreed and Bramblepaw led Hazelpaw towards a bramble bush. Hazelpaw's dark tabby fur got snagged on som of the barbed branches, leaving behind tufts of fur.
"What is it?" she demanded.
"Well... it's just that..."
"What? The prey is getting cold, spit it out, for StarClan's sake!"
"Hazelpaw," Bramblepaw paused and looked around, as if he were searching for some hidden cat. "it's just... I really like you Hazelpaw. You are very special to me and my heart skips a beat whenever I'm near you. Please tell me I didn't make a fool of myself!" His green eyes swirled with a new emotion: love. Bramblepaw scooted closer and pressed his body against Hazelpaw's.
Hazelpaw didn't know what to say. She was lost for words, and yet, she found Bramblepaw's presence comforting.
"Bramblepaw, I don't know what to say." she admitted. "I never knew..."
"Oh, Hazelpaw! You're the light of my life, the heart of my heart." Bramblepaw pressed his muzzle into Hazelpaw's flank. Hazelpaw took in his foresty scent, mingled with some milk scent.
It was as id she were dreaming. She didn't want to move, breathe, or anything that might stop this moment. Hazelpaw's heart lifted. She hadn't felt this much warmth and love since Talonclaw had died!
"Bramblepaw, I love you too." she spoke finaly. She couldn't stop herself. Suddenly, she regreted saying that. They were too young. Bramblepaw was too young! They weren't old enough to be thinking about this stuff. Especially not when I'm supposed to be focusing on an important mission. Love would only get in the way. StarClan help me! What am I going to do?
"Come on, Hazelpaw!" Bramblepaw's voice snapped her out of her thoughts. "Poppywhisker and Rockstorm are probably worrying about us!" With that, Bramblepaw bounded away, leaving Hazelpaw with her vole, thrush, and thoughts.
Hazelpaw stumbled into camp. Cinderclaw, Thornpelt, Sunfur, and Flowerpetal were all in a group, huddled close together. Gossiping, Hazelpaw guessed. That's the only thing warriors seem to do! Hazelpaw scrambled over to the fresh-kill pile. She couldn't wait to be able to lay down in her moss bed and give the day a thought. She was still shocked, in a good way, at what Bramblepaw had said earlier. Her legs felt wobbly thinking of it.
"Hazelpaw?" mewed a voice behind Hazelpaw. The apprentice spun around and saw Poppywhisker gazing down at her. "Are you alright? You seem a bit..."
"I'm fine!" she snapped. Hazelpaw didn't want to be asked questions. She was bound to blurt out the what had happened. Before Poppywhisker could give a sharp rebulk, Hazelpaw trudged towards the apprentices' den. Inside, Hazelpaw curled up and lay her tail on her ears. She soon felt her breathing grow steady, and she was plunged into darkness.
When she woke, Hazelpaw felt light-headed and unbalanced. She tried to find a good place to lay down and rest, but she was soon feeling like herself. Only then did she notice the wierd light glowing off fungus from the trees. The sky was blood-red and everything was dark. She caught a whiff of a cat, but it was stale.
"Greetings." greeted a voic behind Hazelpaw. The dark tabby whirled around and found herself staring at a long-legged auburn colored tom. "My name is Clawstrike." greeted the tom, who had awfully long claws. He dipped his head in respect and stared once more into Hazelpaw's eyes. He had amber eyes and they sparkled with delight.
"I've heard your on a mission," Clawstrike declared. "A mission for revenge."
"Y-yes." stammered Hazelpaw. How in StarClan's name did he knwo she was on a mission?
"This isn't StarClan territory, young one, so you are prohibited from saying that word. Ya here? You are in the Dark Forest, where all strong and pwoerful cats live."
"No it isn't!" spat Hazelpaw. The nerve of this cat! "It's a place for cats who are rejected the entrance to StarClan!" Clawstrike glared at her.
"You are smart, Hazelpaw."
"How do you know my name?" Hazelpaw was bewildered. How did this Dark Forest cat know about her mission and her name? Could he possibly know much more?
"I know much more than you think. I have followed you since you were born. I was there at your kitting. You were destined to kill. But to do that, you need a mentor." explained Clawstrike. Hazelpaw let out a long hiss.
"I already have a mentor and she's fine." spat Hazelpaw. Her green eyes were flaring, but Clawstrike's stayed calm and cool.
"Poppywhisker is nothing. Besides, I'm not going to teach you how to hunt and all that time-wasting dung! I'm here to teach you how to fight! I mean, how else are yoou going to do when your time comes to kill Snowpetal?"
Hazelpaw stared at Clawstrike in astonishment. Her neck fur bristled and her tail lashed from side to side. She strained to let her fur lie flat, but it was impossible; this cat was evil, she could sense it, and he was annoying. Yet, she said nothing.
"How would you know who Poppy-"
"She's my sister, fluff-brain." interupted Clawstrike. His tail lashed to and fro. "Besides, you can't get much teaching out of her, she's always been an idiot."
"She's a great mentor!" Hazelpaw defended her mentor.
"Never mind that," hissed Clawstrike. "Do you want training or what?" Hazelpaw's fur lie flat. How could she reject this once in a lifetime oppertunity?
"Fine." she agreed. "But you better teach me deadly battle moves!" Clawstrike dipped his head.
"Now leap, twist, claw down, and bite!" instructed Clawstrike. Hazelpaw copied the move he showed her and landed clumsily on her paws. A trickle of blood ran down her head, where Clawstrike had hit her while they were fighting.
"Not good enough! You need to master these skills perfectly! Again!"
This time, Hazelpaw landed perfectly, if a bit clumsy.
"Good." praised her dead mentor. "This is another battle move. Come." he beckoned Hazelpaw with his tail. She stumbled on tree roots as she tried to reach him. When she did, Hazelpaw widened her eyes. A river! The black water lapped at the shore and sucked in a large stone.
"Where are we?" prompted Hazelpaw. Curiously, she poked her paw in the water, nearly slipping in when the waves hit her and pulled back with force. She coughed up some water and turned to Clawstrike.
"We are in the Death River. It's where we train cats to swim and use battle moves in water." he explained. Hazelpaw looked over her shoulder and her belly churned with anxiety. This water could kill her!
"I'm not going in there." she mewed. "It's to hard."
"Oh yes you are!" spat Clawstrike. "Now go!" the auburn tom pushed in her in and she instantly began to flounder about in the churning black water. "Come on! It's like running through the forest! Keep your head above the water!"
Hazelpaw tried to do as was told, but found her pelt being pulled. She was dragged underwater, and all she could see was an endless bottom. She splashed the water and tried in vain to resurface. Teeth met her scruff and she was pulled back on shore.
"I'm never doing that.... again!" she spluttered, coughing up water and blinking it away from her eyes. They stung like crazy!
"I knew it was usless," whispered Clawstrike, enough for Hazelpaw to hear. "I should have never messed with you." with a final flick of his tail, he turned and began to pad away into the dark forest.
"Wait!" Hazelpaw called, scrabbling up and trying to reach Clawstrike. This cat was her only chance of killing Snowpetal! Clawstrike stopped and glanced over his shoulder. His amber eyes brightened up as he watched the drenched apprentice wade up to him.
"Yes?" he prompted.
"I... I want you to teach me. To mentor me. I want to succeed, I promise I won't let you down!" Hazelpaw wailed, hoping Clawstrike might change his mind. His amber eyes glinted with amusement.
"I knew you would need me." he finaly said. "Come, training must go on."
When Hazelpaw woke up, she felt as if she'd slept for only a heartbeat! Clawstrike's training must have wore me off, she decided. Hazelpaw flicked moss from her ear an began to give herself a thorough cleaning. Just then did she notice try blood on her head. But I thought it was only a dream! Yet again, her muscles were screaming and she felt too tired to do anything at all.
I'm doing this for you, Talonclaw!
Licking off the dried blood and ignoring her screaming muscles, Hazelpaw padded into the clearing. Fuzzkit and Bumblekit were playfighting near the entrance to the nursery.
"I'm a ShadowClan warrior and your a fox!" hissed Bumblekit as he lunged at his small, spiky sister. Fuzzkit hissed playfully and the two tumbled around the clearing.
Soon I will be rid of you! Hazelpaw thought to herself with a low hiss. Bramblepaw came running.
"Hazelpaw, I thought you'd never wake up! Come on, we're on the sunhigh patrol."
"Sunhigh?" she mewed in astonishment. She had been asleep for a very long time!
"Yeah, but no worries. Come one." He flicked his tail and Hazelpaw reluctantly followed.
"Where's Littlepaw?" she asked dully.
"With Ivyclaw, probably mooning over him!" he teased. Bramblepaw's green eyes sparked with amusement, but Hazelpaw cuoldn't match it. She really didn't find it funny and she really wasn't wondering where Littlepaw was.
"Come on, the patrol is probably waiting." she spoke without meeting Bramblepaw's eyes. A wave of confusion and sadness came from him strongly. The patrol, consisting of Brightsoul, Sunfur, Poppywhisker, and Thornpelt, were waiting impatiently.
"Finally!" exclaimed Cinderclaw. "I thought you two would never come!"
"Well we're here!" she spat angrily, suddenly aware of Sunfur and Brightsoul glaring at her.
"Are you alright, Hazelpaw? It's not like you to snap..." Sunfur's words were cut off.
"I'm fine!" she interrupted. "Just stop bothering me!" with an angry lash of her tail, Hazelpaw bounded away and back into the apprentices' den. She curled up and awaited sleep to overcome her. She wanted to train with Clawstrike again. Soon I'll have enough power to kill you, Snowpetal. Soon, you will die!
Hazlepaw gasped as she woke up from a training session with Clawstrike. He had trained her harder than ever today. Maybe because today is when your nightmare begins, Snowpetal.
With a long stretch, Hazelpaw yawned and gave herself a thorough wash. Bramblepaw stirred but didn't wake and Littlepaw's nest was empty. Probably out with Ivyclaw...
Hazelpaw unsheathed her claws and pictured them ripping through Snowpetal's skin, her blood pooling around her paws as Hazelpaw held her down. She could balme a passing rouge or on another Clan. It would be an easy escape! A loud squeal rang from the nursery and Hazelpaw poked her head out of the fern den. Bumblekit and Fuzzkit were play-fighting together in the clearing. Snowpetal was keeping on intent watch on her kits and Redheart was grooming himself at the mouth of the warriors' den.
Hazelpaw tried to stay out of sight. She was planning on getting some deathberries. Maybe catch a mouse and poke the berries in and give it to Snowpetal. Everyone would think it was a rotten peice of fresh kill. Nothing more nothing less.
The dark tabby apprentice raced to the gorse tunnel. She skidded to a halt when she relized someone was following her. Not Bramblepaw! The dark tabby apprentice, whom looked much like Hazelpaw, was becoming a nuisance. Just another obstacle to dodge.
Hazelpaw whirled around and found herself staring into Fuzzkit's amber eyes. The small kit was cocking her head in confusion. "Where are you going, Hazelpaw? Where's Poppywhisker? What are you going to do? Can I come?"
"Er, Poppywhisker is sleeping and I'm going out into the forest to get some-" An idea suddenly popped into Hazelpaw's head. Why kill Snowpetal and let her rest when you can make her life a living nightmare. A plan was evolving in Hazelpaw's mind. Why not kill things close to Snowpetal? Then, in the end, her?
"Why not come with me, Fuzzkit? I'm going to pick some berries for, er, Fernheart and Mingleberry. They've been wanting some for sometime."
Fuzzkit's amber eyes shone as an apprentice asked her to help her. "Of course!" With a flick of her tail, Hazelpaw led Fuzzkit over to a holly bush.
"Wow! What red berries! Mind if I eat one?" asked Fuzzkit politely. Hazelpaw felt a stab in her heart. She almost felt sorry for Fuzzkit and was just about to spare the young kit's life when she rejected the idea. No. All that is important to Snowpetal must die.
"Go on, eat them. As much as you would like. They're very yummy! I used to eat them all the time!"
Eyes shimmering, Fuzzkit took a mouthful of the berries and gulped them down with a satisfying sigh.
"That was yu-" Fuzzkit's eyes turned red and she started to gag. Her spikey black fur stood on end and Fuzzkit fell to the ground. "What... did... you g-give... me?" stammered the kit. She tried to gag but then she stopped. Although Fuzzkit was still alive. She was paralyzed and Hazelpaw knew that in a few heartbeats, her heart will fail to respond.
"Why?" mewed Fuzzkit. Hazelpaw choked and was lost. She didn't want to end little Fuzzkit's life, but she had to.
"I'm so sorry, Fuzzkit. I-I really didn't want you to die, but it's all because of Snowpetal this is happening to you. Blame her, dearest, not me. She's the one that caused your death. If it weren't for her, you'de be frolicking around with Bumblekit, maybe even become warriors."
Fuzzkit let out a feeble yowl and tried to move. Hazelpaw, who was horrified for what she did, took Fuzzkit by the scruff and took her to the holly bush. Quickly, Hazelpaw made a deep hole in the ground and pushed Fuzzkit's body in. The little black kit was letting out feeble yowls that dimmed with every heartbeat.
"Please." choked Fuzzkit, but Hazelpaw was already burying her.
With an evil chuckle, Hazelpaw looked at Fuzzkit's grave. She was burried alive. An early grave for the kit, but no matter, Hazelpaw was a pawstep ahead of the game. One pawstep ahead of Snowpetal.
Hazelpaw decided to huunt. She knew her clanmates would question her absence back in camp. She silently weaved through the trees and bushes, when, suddenly, a twig snapped. Hazelpaw whirled around, expecting to see one of her clanmates looking for the missing Fuzzkit, but instead, she saw a dirty golden she-cat and a brown tom with a stripped tail. No cat she recognized.
"Intruders!" yowled Hazelpaw. With a screetch, she leaped into the air and jumped onto the ShadowClan cats. But, they weren't fighting back.
The dirty golden she-cat cleared her throat.
"Our territory, you mean. You crossed the border." she growled. Hazelpaw stiffened with fear. She was about to run away, over the border and into her own territory, but she stopped herself. These would make good accomplises. she thought. Maybe they could help me with Snowpetal...
"I mean no threat. I am Hazelpaw, apprentice of ThunderClan. I have crossed the border in search of aquantinces. And you two just might be the lucky ones. See, I've been abused by my mother terribly. I have come to this territory to gain a new friendship. An alliance, you might say."
"See, I want to inflict fear into my mother. I would ask my father and siblings, only, I don't have siblings and my mother killed my father." Hazelpaw began to unravel a sob story, praying to StarClan they would buy it and become her allies. That, way, Hazelpaw doesn't always have to do the dirty work and no one would suspect her because she might be in camp or because she's an innocent apprentice! Such a plan!
Hazelpaw's mind was filled with plans for future murders, using her two new allies.
"Well, would you be my allies?" inquired Hazelpaw hopefully. The two cats looked at each other and there was a long silence.
"We'll help." replied the brown tom, breaking the silence. "But first, you need to know our names, Hazelpaw. My name is Snagclaw, and this is Twigstep, my sister." meowed Snagclaw while pointing at Twigstep. It was then that Hazelpaw noticed how brilliantly green Snagclaw's eyes were. He looked young and sturdy, and handsome, too.
Twigstep was exceptionaly beautiful. She had bright blue eyes. She was also young and sturdy.
"Okay, meet you both at the edge of my territory tomorrow." mewed Hazelpaw. With a flick of her tail, Hazelpaw trotted back to her territory, her mind swirling with images of dead cats.
The breeze buffeted Hazelpaw's fur and made her eyes all watery. The sound of claws scraping a hard surface snapped Hazelpaw into attention. Twigstep and Snagclaw appeared, both looking determined to help their "abused" ally.
"Okay," began Hazelpaw, "this is what we'll do. You both know those two clanmates of yours, Feralfang and Clawface, right?"
"Yes," responded Twigstep.
"Good. They're traitors too. They helped my mother kill my father. I want you two to kill them both. Oh, and if you can, please recruit any other cat. I'll need a lot of help."
"Of course, Hazelpaw." With a bow, Twigstep and Snagclaw departed. Hazelpaw chuckled evily when they were out of earshot. This is going to be so easy! thought Hazelpaw. Soon, she would have enough cats to make Snowpetal's life a miserable nightmare. Living day after day in fear she would be Hazelpaw's next victim.
A rustling on the other side of the Thunderpath made Hazelpaw snap into attention. Snagclaw and Twigstep stepped out. But, they were not alone. A gray tom with a white underbelly and muzzle came out after them.
"Hello." greeted Hazelpaw cautiously.
"Do not worry, Hazelpaw. This is a new ally. His name is-" Snagclaw was cut off by the other cat.
"My name is Snakefang, deputy of ShadowClan. Snagclaw and Twigstep told me about your mother. I felt awfull about it and decided to become your ally."
Hazelpaw's heart skipped a beat. The deputy of ShadowClan! Wow! Her sob story was really working! If I can drag a meer deputy into my group, I could drag in a leader!
"Good. But, my mother has allies in other Clans too. We must travel through all the territories and bring in cats. That way, my mother won't stand a chance!" yowled Hazelpaw.
"But, how will we possibly get another cat into our group?" questioned Snakefang. His amber eyes were confused.
"Do not worry. Everyone must know about my story. They'll feel bad for me and want to help me. Help. That's what I need right now, so they won't think twice about it!"
"Good thinking, boss." praised Snagclaw. Boss!
"Let's go." ordered Hazelpaw, sounding more grown up but keeping her voice smooth and hypnotizing.
Her ShadowClan followers followed her to Sunningrocks. There, a ginger she-cat was sunning herself. RiverClan had recently won Sunningrocks and the unjust fight still pricked Hazelpaw's fur. But no matter, Sunningrocks will be mine once I've recruited new allies.
Hazelpaw stepped out of the brush with her followers behind. The ginger she-cat jumped and turned to face the invaders. "Get out of RiverClan territory!" she spat. Her pale yellow eyes flared.
"Do not fret, dear warrior. We mean no harm and do not intend on taking your territory." spoke Hazelpaw. She was suprised by how smooth and calm her voice sounded. The she-cat's neck fur flattened but she flattened her ears.
"W-why do I feel so drawn to you?" she hesitated. Hazelpaw was about to speak, but Twigstep was quicker.
"She is an abused apprentice who is looking for friendship throughout the Clans. Her mother abuses her and her father was killed."
The ginger she-cat looked horrified. "Oh you poor thing! Of course I want to help you defeat your mother! Do you want anymore cats?" she asked. Hazelpaw widened her eyes and curled her lip in a smile.
"It would help, yes." she answered smoothly.
As the she-cat left, Hazelpaw turned to her ShadowClan cats. "Well, we've done it! Another member of our group. One more cat to help me defeat my mother and her cats!" Hazelpaw tried vainly to sound happy and excited about defeating her mother, but in reality, she was thinking of Snowpetal. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Every cat would soon be her enemy.
The ginger she-cat returned with a black and white apprentice. He could be as old as Hazelpaw.
"This is my apprentice, Larkpaw and I'm Gingerheart. Pleased to be at your service." Gingerheart bowed and so did Larkpaw. His green eyes glinted in the sunlight.
"Thank you. We will be leaving now, please meet me and my three friends near the Thunderpath." With a flick of her ears, Hazelpaw departed with the ShadowClan cats.
Snakefang, Twigstep, Snagclaw, Gingerheart, Larkpaw, and Runningheart, Hazelpaw's neawest member of her group, were waiting for her at the edge of the Thunderpath, as always. For days the group has met, discussing the most painful way to let Snowpetal go on living. Hazelpaw had admitted to killing Fuzzkit and training with Clawstrike. Now all the warriros and apprentice were training with Dark Forest cats.
Earlier, Hazelpaw was barley let out of camp. Bramblepaw caught her before dawn as she was slipping out. He had stopped her and suggested they go for a walk and Hazelpaw had to reject. Poppywhisker told Hazelpaw to clean out the elders' den and Lilystar and Amberfang tried to get Hazelpaw to battle train.
Now, Hazelpaw was sitting with her tail neatly over her paws and listening to her allies' suggestions.
"How about killing her loved ones? One by one, each death more gruesome than the last." suggested Runningheart. The young WindClan she-cat shrinked away, as if she was shy to speak in front of these cats. Hazelpaw had become the leader of the group, overpowering and by far the strongest. Stronger than Snakefang.
"Good suggestion, Runningheart. End of discussion. We will go with Runningheart's suggestion. If any of you see anyone close to Snowpetal, kill them at once. No mercy." Hazelpaw's mind has become more murderouse and dangerouse. She felt strong. "And by the way, since we have a fair amount of members in this group, why not give ourselves a name?" meowed Hazelpaw. She curled her lip in a smile.
The members looked at each other and nodded their heads. "Good idea, Hazelpaw." praised Gingerheart.
"We will call ourselves The Shadows. I will serve as leader, my name from now on will be Aeron. Or, Lady Aeron. However you want it. Meeting dismissed." With bows coming from the members, Hazelpaw raced away to camp.
Poppywhisker was waiting for her when she got back. Her tortoiseshell shoulders were stiff, as if she were tense.
"Hazelpaw, you've missed a dozen practices with me. You're falling behind on your training, and why in the name of StarClan are meeting with cats from other Clans?"
Astonished, Hazelpaw didn't speak. How did Poppywhisker know about her and The Shadows?
Mouse-brain! I've been slacking!
"I would never meet with other cats, Poppywhisker. ThunderClan has my loyalty. Now, please let me go to my den. I am tired." Hazelpaw tried to push Poppywhisker away, but Poppywhisker stood her ground.
"If you haven't been meeting with other cats, then I guess you won't mind training right now." Poppywhisker led Hazelpaw away to the sandy hollow.
Hazelpaw cursed under her breath. She wanted to sleep and meet with Clawstrike, not be awake and train with his boring sister. But I have to take on more resbonsibility. She's suspecting of me...
Throughout the day, Poppywhisker and Hazelpaw were hunting. Hazelpaw caught a good amount of fresh kill. A rabbit, two sparrows, and a mouse. Proud, Hazelpaw padded into camp and dropped her prey into the pile. All cats stopped to admire her rabbit.
Hazelpaw thought it would be best to bring the rabbit to the elders. Clamping it in her jaws, Hazelpaw carried the rabbit over to the fallen tree.
Inside, Fernheart and Cloudnose were sharing tounges. When Hazelpaw approached them, Fernheart lifted her head.
"Rabbit," breathed Cloudnose. The blind white tom sat up and pulled the rabbit closer.
"Thank you." he mewed and began to eat. He and Fernheart wolfed down the rabbit, but left some for Mingleberry. The ginger she-cat appeared and ate what was left.
"That was good." meowed Mingleberry. Fernheart nodded her head.
"Bye." mewed Hazelpaw while leaving the den.
Hazelpaw was entering the fern den when Littlepaw and Bramblepaw appeared.
"Hey, Hazelpaw!" squealed Littlepaw. Her bright blue eyes shone brightly, but grew dull. "Snowpetal's still dristraught about Fuzzkit. Nobody knows what happened to her, or have found the body."
Hazelpaw bit her tounge to stop a chuckle from escaping her mouth. I know about Fuzzkit. I know where her body lies, thought Hazelpaw.
"Poor Bumblekit. He's too scared to leave the nursery in case what happened to Fuzzkit happens to him." mewed Bramblepaw sadly.
"Er, I'm kinda tired. Do you two mind?" Come on! Leave!
"No problem. I'm going out with Ivyclaw. Bye, Hazelpaw. Bye, Bramblepaw!" Littlepaw scampered away and caught up with Ivyclaw.
"Hey, Hazelpaw, would you like to take a walk in the forest with me?' asked Bramblepaw shyly.
The same loving sensation Hazelpaw felt the day in the bush when Bramblepaw told her he loved her flooded over her.
"S-sure." It was there that Hazelpaw noticed that she could be strong with other cats, but when it comes to Bramblepaw, the cat that was always by her side, the one that always confided in her, she's dumbstruck.
Hazelpaw followed Bramblepaw out into the forest. The two dark tabbies walked side by side, enjoying the bird song and cool breeze. It was hard to imagine Hazelpaw was leading The Shadows. Even more so she wanted to kill an apperantly innocent cat and her family.
Hazelpaw began to consider leaving her grudge and go back to being a normal ThunderClan apprentice. Not the leader of The Shadows. Not a murderer. Not a traitor. But, Talonclaw's unjust slaughter was still fresh in her mind. How could she forgive a cat who did that to her beloved father? No. I promised you I'd do this for you, Talonclaw. There's no turning back now.
Bramblepaw halted the edge of the river. "What are we doing here? Isn't this RiverClan territory?" prompted Hazelpaw, taking a step back. What are you, a scardy mouse? You can do whatever you want!
"I know, but it doesn't hurt being bad once and a while." Bramblepaw gave Hazelpaw a wink and Hazelpaw chuckled a bit.
"I'm sorry." spoke Bramblepaw looking at the river.
"For what?" asked Hazelpaw. Bramblepaw never did anything to have to say sorry.
"For the day in the bush. I... I just wanted to yowl out my feelings. The day you left the nursery, was the worst day of my life. I couldn't stand being apart from you, so when I moved in and became your denamte again, I wanted you to know that I love you. I'm sorry, I knew we were too young, but... it's difficult when my heart's so content on you, Hazelpaw." Bramblepaw turned his head and looked into Hazelpaw's eyes.
They sat there, staring at each other. The river lapped at the shore and the water gurgled.
With a sigh, Hazelpaw leaned on Bramblepaw's broad shoulder. The dark tabbies stayed there, observing the river, when a group of cats broke out of the brush behind them. Hazelpaw whirled, hissing, just in time to make out the shapes of ThunderClan cats.
"Hazelpaw, so glad that you're here. You too, Bramblepaw. We will attack RiverClan and make them give up Sunningrocks now." hissed Lilystar. Behind her, Amberfang, Poppywhisker, Cinderclaw, Ivyclaw, Duststorm, Rockstorm, Littlepaw, Redheart, Dawnheart and Thornpelt stood silhouetted across the horizen.
"Right." nodded Bramblepaw. He pushed Hazelpaw gently and the two got in the ThunderClan line.
"Move out!" ordered Lilystar. The patrol stalked out of the brush and across the river. Hazelpaw, not minding the slightest bit that her paws were wet and muddy, sheathed and unsheathed her claws. This would be perfect! It will let her try out new moves, though, she won't be able to kill anyone.
"Stand your ground, ThunderClan! And may StarClan be with us today." added Lilystar. The patrol sat there, in a line, awaiting the arrival of a partrol.
Not long after, A patrol, consisting of four, appeared. Gingerheart and Larkpaw were there. The nodded slightly, barley being seen and looked up at Lilystar seriously.
"What are you doing on our territory?" demanded a blue-gray tom with white paws. He stood in front of Lilystar ferociously. Larkpaw and Gingerheart reluctantly followed the cat, standing in front of other cats.
"Get out now!" hissed the tom.
"We will not leave until I speak with Troutstar, Mossclaw."
Mossclaw hissed and spat, but, finally, nodded to one of his cats. "Go get Troutstar."
The cat nodded and whisked away from the patrol. A few heartbeats passed when Troutstar appeared with the other cat. Only, Troutstar arrived with a whole patrol of cats.
"What do you want, Lilystar?" asked Troutstar cooly, yet, his voice was firm.
"Sunningrocks. We won't leave untill ThunderClan owns it." Lilystar took a daring step forward. Hazelpaw scoffed. However much Lilystar acted strong and brave, Hazelpaw could sense her fur tingling and the smell of fear wafted from her kin.
"Never! RiverClan attack!"
With a yowl, Hazelpaw leaped into battle.
Yowls of pain rang through the clearing. Cats of RiverClan and ThunderClan leaped at each other with claws unsheathed and blood pouring onto the grass.
Hazelpaw didn't feel scared. She simply clawed the enemy cat in the face and they would wince away, yowling because of the damage she caused.
Hazelpaw slithered through the battling cats and saw Lilystar clashing with Troutstar. The two leaders spat and hissed ferociously. Hazelpaw was half tempted to run up and claw Troutstar, but before she could move, a cat bumped into her, knocking her to the ground.
Taken by suprise, Hazelpaw tried in vain to get back up and claw the dirty mixed-blood right in the face. The cat, Ripplepaw, leaped onto Hazelpaw's back, scratching her furiously. With a sneer, Hazelpaw turned and landed hard on her back. Ripplepaw screeched and turned to run. Hazelpaw pursuited after him and caught up.
She knocked him off to the side and the apprentice rolled away. Hazelpaw ran after him, again. Ripplepaw was on the floor, covered in smeared blood and dead grass.
He coughed and shook violently. Hazelpaw lifted her paw to finish him off, but, in the last heartbeat, she stopped. Hazelpaw leaned down and whispered into Ripplepaw's torn ear.
"Join me. Larkpaw and Gingerheart." With a sniff, Hazelpaw pelted back into battle.
"ThunderClan, we are victoriouse!"
Yowls and screeches of approval split the air. ThunderClan had beaten off RiverClan, claiming Sunningrocks as their own.
The elders came out and cheered with their clanmates. Snowpetal and Bumblekit cheered on, too.
Bumblekit. Snowpetal's last kit. You're next!
Hazelpaw already had it all planned out. She would ask one of her allies, maybe one of the ShadowClan cats, to lure the kit onto the Thunderpath. A monster would run over him and it would seem as a thoughtless adventure, ending in death. No one will suspect.
It was the perfect murder plan.
The air grew tense as Hazelpaw approached the nursery. The distinct smell of milk and warmth made Hazelpaw think of her days in there. They were fun, too!
Hazelpaw put one paw in the nursery, leaving three paws outside. Her front left paw joined her front right paw inside, the two back ones followed, until she was completely in the nursery. Willowsong was snoring softly. Snowpetal was next to Willowsong, Bumblekit huddled next to her belly.
"Psst." Hazelpaw prodded Bumblekit with a soft paw. He stirred and lifted his head.
"Shh, don't talk. Come with me." Bumblekit's droopy green eyes turned energetic and he jumped up and followed Hazelpaw out of the den, and out of camp.
"Where are we going, Hazelpaw?" Bumblekit asked as the two young cats passed by a holly bush. The same holly bush with Fuzzkit burried underneathe. He has no idea! Out of the corner of her eye, Hazelpaw saw the tiny grave under the holly bush.
Hazelpaw led Bumblekit to the Thunderpath. Twigstep and Snakefang were there.
"Where's Snagclaw?" Hazelpaw asked firmly. She looked down at Bumblekit and saw his tiny eyes grow wide and scared.
"Trasspassers, Hazelpaw! We must tell Lily-" Hazelpaw cut the little kit off and stepped on his tail in case he started to run.
"These are just my friends, Bumblekit." Hazelpaw tried to explain softly, but the black and white kit kept skwirming and fighting.
Bumblekit wouldn't stop skwirming and fidgeting, which was making Hazelpaw's job harder than she had planned.
"Please, Hazelpaw! We need to warn Lilystar and the Clan!" Bumblekit begged and turned to nip at Hazelpaw's paw.
"Unfortunatly for you, Bumblekit, I'll be the only one that gets back to the Clan." Twigstep, Snagclaw, Snakefang, Gingerheart, Larkpaw, and Runningheart all gave a small grin and their eyes all turned a dark shade. A demonic shade that would stop a cat taut if they had stared for a long time. It was the pure image of a demon or the very same devil, as the Twolegs would put it.
Bumblekit whirled around and stared fearfully at Hazelpaw. "What? What do you mean, Hazelpaw? There are two of us!" Bumblekit turned back towards the camp and kept tugging.
"Aeron has spoken you fool! You will die right here right now!" Snakefang leaped and landed squarly on Bumblekit. A loud crack split the air and blood pured out of Bumblekit's mouth and ears. His black and white fur was clogged with blood and a pool was forming around the young kit's limp body.
Snakefang's paws were specked with blood. The ShadowClan deputy licked his paws clean and seemed to enjoy the taste of young blood on his claws.
Twigstep's eyes widened with shock. "I never expected that." She turned and looked crossly at Snakefang. "He was merely a kit, Snakefang!" she hissed.
"Oh come on! Don't tell me you didn't want to kill him either!" the gray tom turned to look at Twigstep. The dirty golden she-cat looked away and stared at her paws.
"Coward." murmered Snakefang and looked back at Hazelpaw. "How should we dispose of the body, Aeron?"
Hazelpaw looked at the crushed body of Bumblekit and looked back at Snakefang. Her loyal follower kept staring intently at Hazelpaw, waiting for an answer.
"We'll leave him in a bush near the entrance to my camp. That way, when they go out looking for him, they'll scent him and expect to see him playing. They'll find the body and supose a passing rogue killed him or something." Hazelpaw replied calmly picturing the reaction of the luck cat to find Bumblekit.
Snakefang bowed and grabbed Bumblekit by the scruff, going deeper and deeper into ThunderClan's territory.
Hazelpaw stared at Snakefang until he disappeared from sight. She snapped back at Snagclaw and Twigstep. The two littermates looked at each other then at Hazelpaw.
"What do you want us to do?" Larkpaw asked shakily. It was his first time witnessing a murder.
"You all know Clawface, am I not correct?" All the cats nodded their heads. "He is our nect victim." Hazelpaw looked over at the ShadowClan cats. "You know him best, tell us his greatist weakness?"
Snagclaw was the one to speak. "He has a slight limp that can be barley seen unless you look real close. In battle he can be easily knocked over if you swipe his forpaws from under him, they're weak, I have seen." Hazelpaw nodded her thanks and worked a plan in her head.
"Right. In three sunrises, Twigstep, Snagclaw, and Snakefang will lure Clawface in the middle of the road. There is a specific monster that comes here every day at sunhigh. If Clawface is there, at the exact time the car comes into view, it will most likely run the mange-pelt over." Hazelpaw unsheathed her claws at the thought of the raining blood that would come and shower her in jus three days.
"Until then, though, I want no more meetings." The ThunderClan murderer flicked her tail signiling the meeting was over. Larkpaw jumped in front of her.
"What about me? What can I do? I want you to see that I'm loyal to you!" Larkpaw's eyes looked pleading. It was then that Hazelpaw noticed that Larkpaw was not much younger than she was. Maybe a moon or so younger. It made her wounder what would cause this apprentice to want to kill at such a young age.
"Why? Why would you want to kill?"
"Because I want to prove that I'm strong! The youngest warriors are teasing me."
"Don't worry, Larkpaw, the time will come when you will prove your stength to everyone."