Air of Treason
Series: Deathberries Series
Succeeding: Last Stand
|Ten moons have passed. One cat wants to go against everything they've known, and yet another wants to go against the biggest threat...|
Eight Moons Ago...
- "They're beautiful," Berryclaw mewed hollowly.
- Three kits squirmed by Airstar's belly. One, a golden-brown tom, another, a gray tom. The third, a darker golden-brown she-cat.
- "You choose one to name," Airstar whispered.
- Berryclaw pointed with his tail to the she-kit, who was by far the smallest. "Dawnkit."
- Airstar purred and nodded. "Yes, and this one is Eaglekit, after Eaglestar." She pointed to the gray tom.
- The leader had not long before, due to a mysterious sickness, or so WindClan thought.
- "What about this last one?" Airfur asked quietly.
- "Brackenkit," Berryclaw suggested.
- "Yes," Airstar mewed. "Brackenkit."
- "Dawnpaw," Berryclaw spat, "will you pay attention?"
- Dawnpaw turned to her mentor, also her father. "Fine," she sighed.
- Berryclaw had caught her staring towards ShadowClan territory once again, where the famed Littleclaw lived.
- Dawnpaw felt a longing, one beyond ever before. She wanted to meet Littleclaw. Never, at either of her Gatherings, had she gotten a chance.
- But, at this one, she thought, she would. She was determined to.
- And, as her plan told her to, she and Littleclaw would become friends, and the thing she longed for the most would happen.
- All she had to do was wait...
- There was the long wait...
- And he still did not come.
- Smokestar's fur bristled as he realized that Toadstar, ShadowClan's newest leader, was not going to join him here tonight.
- "All he has to do is fall asleep," Sharpstar mewed quietly.
- "He is asleep," Smokestar murmured. "But he's resisting. He's resisting my presence."
- "Then go to him," Sharpstar suggested. "He doesn't always have to come to you."
- Smokestar thought for a moment.
- Another cat appeared next to him. "Maybe Berry has struck again."
- "No," Smokestar replied. "He would be here now, a shadow of a shadow next to me."
- Grayfoot's eyes gleamed. "Berry would not allow just one life to be lost. Now that Airstar is leader, he must know about the nine lives every leader has."
- Another cat pushed her way forward. "Even Airstar trusts him, now?" Dawnpaw spat.
- "They're mates," Grayfoot growled.
- Bluepaw entwined his tail with Dawnpaw's. "There's more then one threat," he pointed out softly. "There's three..."
- Littleclaw stared. There was something small... something behind there...
- She pounced, and with a gasp of triumph, she felt her claws sink into a fat thrush.
- As she stood up, she glanced at her new apprentice.
- Yewfur and Nightpelt's son, Acornpaw, was standing behind her.
- After two moons, you'd think he caught something, Littleclaw thought, annoyed.
- "Littleclaw," Acornpaw mewed hesitantly, "are you my kin?"
- Littleclaw looked at the apprentice. He was quiet, usually.
- "Yes," she replied. "Nightfur is my son."
- Acornpaw stared. "Woah."
- Littleclaw purred. "Come on, you've got to catch something, so you can catch up to your littermates!"
- Nightpelt's other two kits were named Nutpaw and Rushpaw.
- Acornpaw shook his head. "It's too hard, though!"
- Littleclaw sighed. StarClan, help me. She took a deep breath and mewed, "Don't you want to serve the Clan?"
- Acornpaw shook his head stubbornly. "No, I hate ShadowClan!"
- "You're acting like a kit!" Littleclaw hissed. "Come on, Acornpaw, I know it's hard, but it gets easier when you catch something."
- Acornpaw took a hostile step forward. "How are you going to make me, huh?"
- "I'll tell Toadstar that you'd like to be exiled," Littleclaw threatened.
- Acornpaw's eyes widened. "No... please!" he begged.
- "Why should I listen?" Littleclaw asked. She was pushing it, she knew, but if this was the only way to train Acornpaw, she would do it.
- "Don't tell Toadstar, please!" Acornpaw begged.
- Littleclaw turned, pretending that she was about to go back to camp.
- "I'll catch something!" Acornpaw screeched.
- Littleclaw stopped and purred to herself. Now, training her stubborn apprentice was going to be a breeze.
- A cat stood in the shadows, watching the argument unfold. She wanted to step in, but she couldn't.
- She took a deep breath and turned away. Away from happiness.
- "Okay, you leap."
- Littleclaw watched as Acornpaw leaped, following her whispered command.
- He came up in awe. "I- I think I can do it!"
- Littleclaw felt a surge of pride flow through her. "Good!"
- Acornpaw glanced at the bushes. "Did you hear something?"
- Littleclaw shook her head. "No."
- "Let's go back to camp," Acornpaw sighed. "I'll try and catch something tomorrow."
- Littleclaw nodded. The pride had disappeared.
- She hoped it would come back again the next day.
- Boulder stopped as she heard a noise coming towards her. She dove into a bush and peered out.
- A red tom walked by her, followed by two younger ones that looked a lot like him.
- "Eaglepaw, hurry up!" one muttered.
- One cat hissed. "It's because you're going so slow."
- The red tom pushed in between the two younger cats. "Quiet. We..."
- The words were lost as Boulder stared at the red tom. He's so handsome...
- She had fallen in love.
- Littleclaw led Acornpaw though the forest, towards the ShadowClan camp.
- She couldn't stop thinking about Acornpaw's comment about hearing something. If Berryclaw was still there...
- It'll be okay, Littleclaw convinced herself. Berryclaw's a Clan cat now. He won't hurt anybody.
- Then she remembered Marshtail. Well, most Clan cats don't hurt other ones.
- She stalked into the camp. Nutpaw bounded up to Acornpaw.
- Littleclaw purred.
- "Rabid squirrels!" Nutpaw yowled. "I drop magical brambles next to them!" She ran off, leaving Acornpaw sitting in awe.
- "She always manages to surprise me," Acornpaw muttered.
- Littleclaw purred, and turned to see Stoneheart, her son.
- "Littleclaw," Stoneheart began, "where is Nightfur?"
- Littleclaw replied, "I have no idea. Where's Mudpelt?"
- Stoneheart winced at the mention of his brother. "Um..."
- Littleclaw felt a pang of worry. "Where is he?" she demanded.
- "Follow me," Stoneheart mewed hoarsely.
- Stoneheart led Littleclaw out of the camp, to the WindClan border.
- WindClan... That's where Berryclaw is, Littleclaw thought.
- "Mudpelt's in WindClan?" Littleclaw quizzed.
- Stoneheart sighed. "Yes."
- "W-why?" Littleclaw sputtered. "Why didn't anyone tell me this before?"
- "We didn't want to make you worried!" Stoneheart cried.
- "How long has Mudpelt been gone?" Littleclaw demanded.
- "A quarter-moon."
- Fury rose up inside Littleclaw, and she had to grip the ground with her claws to avoid murdering Stoneheart.
- Stoneheart looked dismayed. "I'm sorry, Littleclaw."
- Littleclaw sighed. "Why did he leave?"
- "He..." Stoneheart trailed off. "He wanted to join Berryclaw."
- Berryclaw sighed. How long am I going to be stuck here?
- Next to him, his son, Eaglepaw, stood, letting his fur be buffeted by the wind. "It's so hot out!" Eaglepaw called.
- Berryclaw nodded. But he was really looking at two figures on the horizon- a grayish tom cat and a light brown she-cat.
- "Intruders!" Berryclaw screeched. "Come on, Eaglepaw!"
- Eaglepaw's eyes widened but he followed Berryclaw over the moorland.
- Berryclaw's breath got knocked out of him as he banged into something.
- He looked up, angry, and saw a silver tabby she-cat. She had gray paws and stripes and ears.
- Eaglepaw had stopped and was staring at the pair in awe.
- "S-sorry," the she-cat stuttered.
- Berryclaw forced himself to reply kindly. "It's no problem. What's your name?"
- "Boulder," the she-cat replied.
- "The intruders are gone!" Eaglepaw called, but Berryclaw didn't care.
- "I'm Berryclaw," he told Boulder. "That's my son, Eaglepaw," he added.
- Boulder looked crestfallen. "Oh," she murmured. "He's handsome..."
- "Thank you," Berryclaw replied.
- "I would love to join a Clan," Boulder blurted out, then she stared at her paws.
- "It's really boring," Berryclaw sighed.
- "It won't be!" Boulder meowed quickly. "There's fights, and you honor your Clan and get a warrior name and get trained by one..."
- "It's not a big deal," Berryclaw told her.
- Eaglepaw trotted back. "I'm Eaglepaw," he told Boulder.
- Berryclaw noticed the fur on the back of Boulder's neck fluffed up at the sight of Eaglepaw so close.
- "I'm Boulder," she replied. Her voice was forced.
- Eaglepaw didn't seem to notice. "Well, Berryclaw," he began, "we'd better start heading back to camp."
- Berryclaw glared at his son. "Who asked you?"
- "Berryclaw, come on," Eaglepaw murmured, a warning tone in his voice. "You know we don't talk to cats that are lower on the food chain than you."
- Boulder looked taken aback, but Eaglepaw didn't stop. "You know you have to perform that annoying ceremony. Remember when Airfur had to?"
- Berryclaw nodded silently. What is he doing?
- "We don't need that again. Toadstar threatened to kill the next cat who did."
- Berryclaw nodded, and looked at Boulder.
- A feeling that he had never felt flowed through him.
- He forced himself to turn away.
- Away from happiness.
- Dawnpaw pawed the stone into place. She had spent since sunrise trying to get it out of the ground.
- She had spent since sunrise avoiding Berryclaw.
- She knew that her father hated her. It was obvious.
- Her brothers, Brackenpaw and Eaglepaw, were loved by Berryclaw. Well, he showed more affection towards them.
- But Dawnpaw knew one thing her brothers didn't.
- Berryclaw was waiting.
- Waiting for his escape.
- Mudpelt saw two figures, distant.
- He purred to himself. His mother was worrying about him.
- That made him happy.
- He had joined WindClan for one simple reason- he admired Berryclaw.
- He knew that his mother was putting up a fight to kill Berryclaw, and Berryclaw was winning.
- Any cat that managed to overpower his mother was admirable, in Mudpelt's terms.
- The next day, Berryclaw called to Dawnpaw, "Training, now!" His voice was cold.
- Dawnpaw sighed and stood up, from where she was sharing a rabbit with Brackenpaw.
- "Good luck," Brackenpaw whispered.
- Dawnpaw nodded at him and walked to Berryclaw, who was standing at the entrance of the camp.
- They walked in silence, until Dawnpaw couldn't take it anymore.
- "You don't even love her," she mewed.
- Berryclaw stopped. "What?"
- "You don't love Airstar. Why did you-"
- "Shut up, you piece of mouse-dung!" Berryclaw spat.
- Dawnpaw took a step back. In all of her moons, Berryclaw had hated her, but he had never insulted her.
- "I love Airstar," Berryclaw hissed.
- "You don't!" Dawnpaw replied angrily. "I haven't seen you with her since the day I was apprenticed!"
- Berryclaw gritted his teeth. "She's a leader, Dawnpaw."
- "Then show some respect for her!" Dawnpaw screeched.
- She turned and ran away. But not before Berryclaw reached out and clawed her side.
- I'm leaving, Dawnpaw thought as she ran. If he hates me, I hate him, too.
- Nutpaw raced up to Littleclaw and yowled, "Trees die in fire!"
- Littleclaw stared. "Nutpaw, what?"
- "I like dirt!" Nutpaw replied proudly.
- Littleclaw snorted.
- There was a large sigh behind Littleclaw, and she turned around.
- Marshtail was standing there.
- "Go away," Littleclaw hissed. "I don't need to be seen with you!"
- Marshtail looked taken aback. "I see it you're angry with me?" he prompted, sitting down.
- Littleclaw hissed. "I'm going hunting," she muttered. She stormed off.
- Behind her, she heard Marshtail yowl, "I'm coming with you!"
- "No!" Littleclaw hissed. "I wanted to train Acornpaw."
- "I can help you train him-"
- "Go away," Littleclaw moaned. "You killed my last apprentice, and our father."
- Marshtail's eyes darkened. "I said I was sorry!"
- "Nothing can ever replace Smokestar!" Littleclaw screeched. "I'm not sure if I can trust you anymore, Marshtail."
- And, aware of all eyes on her, she stormed out of the camp.
- Dawnpaw stared after Brackenpaw in dismay. "You don't understand!" she yowled.
- "Understand?" Brackenpaw asked. His voice was low, and he choked out every word. "I don't want to lose you to Berryclaw."
- "I'm leaving because of him," Dawnpaw protested. "Brackenpaw, please. Let me go!"
- Brackenpaw stared at his paws.
- "Please," Dawnpaw pleaded.
- At that moment, Eaglepaw bounded up to them. "What's going on?"
- "Dawnpaw's leaving," Brackenpaw whispered.
- Eaglepaw's eyes widened. "What- why?"
- "I'm so tired of Berryclaw," Dawnpaw growled. "He doesn't even love Airstar."
- Eaglepaw's tail fluffed up. "He doesn't."
- Brackenpaw stared at Eaglepaw. "How- what?"
- "There's this rogue named Boulder," Eaglepaw explained. "I think Berryclaw's falling for her."
- "There's a ShadowClan cat named Boulderfoot," a voice whispered behind them.
- Eaglepaw nearly leaped out of his pelt. "B-Berryclaw!"
- "That's right," Berryclaw whispered.
- Dawnpaw couldn't control her shaking. "G-go away."
- "Why don't you?" Berryclaw shot back.
- "She is," Brackenpaw mumbled.
- Eaglepaw shot a glance at him.
- "I am leaving," Dawnpaw mewed. "I'm leaving now!"
- She raced out of camp.
- She was safe. For now.
- Littleclaw stalked out of the camp and let herself disappear into the trees.
- She was so tired of all the drama, of all the fear. She just wanted the cause dead.
- Berryclaw had to die.
- Dawnpaw shivered. The wind was cold.
- Where could she go? She had just driven herself out of her home.
- Then she had a thought- Littleclaw. Littleclaw could help her!
- Mudpelt nodded as Airstar directed him onto a patrol with Berryclaw and some other cat.
- "You're the new cat," Berryclaw growled as Mudpelt approached him.
- "I am," Mudpelt replied smoothly. "Get over it."
- Stoneheart stared at the mountain, the mountain where ThunderClan lived.
- He let his mother's story settle in his mind- how Berryclaw had killed three cats, and almost Marshtail.
- Then, in the end, he had gotten pushed off of a cliff.
- Why can't he just go back there again? Stoneheart thought.
- Littleclaw slipped through the woods, towards WindClan territory.
- This was going to end.
- She broke into a run.
- Dawnpaw didn't even pause to think as she raced across the ShadowClan border.
- She had to find Littleclaw, she was the only way...
- The only way...
- And with a gasp, she stopped.
- Littleclaw hissed, her claws unsheathed instantly.
- "What are you doing here?"
- The intruder stood up. "I'm Dawnpaw," she mewed. "I escaped from my father. I want him dead."
- The alliance was made.
- The battle had begun.
- Berryclaw stalked into camp, with Eaglepaw and Brackenpaw right behind him.
- "I'm done," he spat.
- "W-with what?" Brackenpaw stammered.
- Berryclaw glared at him. "Be quiet."
- Eaglepaw stepped closer to his littermate.
- "What's going on?" a voice asked. Berryclaw saw Airstar bounding over, her eyes alight.
- Berryclaw stared at his paws. I can't betray my mate.
- "Berryclaw, is anything wrong?" Airstar asked hesitantly.
- I'm going to betray her, I'm Berryclaw, for StarClan's sake! Berryclaw took a step forward, doing his best to not break eye contact.
- "B-Berryclaw?" Airstar stammered.
- "My name is Berry," Berryclaw snarled.
- "B-but-" Brackenpaw stammered, but Berry cut him off:
- "You're my kit, you're going to stay with me," Berry growled.
- "W-what?" Airstar stammered.
- "I'm leaving. I'm taking Brackenpaw and Eaglepaw with me," Berry growled. "How hard is that to understand?"
- And with a hiss, he spun around and stalked out of camp. He was going to find Dawnpaw.
- And kill her.
- Mudpelt stared in awe as Berryclaw- Berry- stalked out of camp.
- Airstar lowered her head in sadness, and Mudpelt bounded up to her.
- "I'm staying with Berry," he whispered. "I'll keep them away from here."
- Berry stalked across the moor, aware of Eaglepaw and Brackenpaw stumbling along behind him.
- "Berryclaw!" a voice yowled.
- Berry's heart glowed. It was Boulder.
- He stopped and allowed Boulder to bound up to him, then continued at a slower pace.
- "Berryclaw, where are you going?" Boulder asked.
- "To kill the cats that tried to kill me," Berry snarled. "My name is Berry."
- Boulder didn't look surprised. "I'll join you."
- Berry stopped.
- "What?" Boulder asked.
- "Nothing," Berry murmured. Forget about that, he urged himself. You love her, show it!
- He entwined his tail with hers. Boulder gasped.
- Berry nodded.
- And walked towards the battle.