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Loner Road

Author: Leopard
Status: Finished
Preceding: None
Succeeding: Names of Blood
Spellcheckers: None
Randompaw and Lilypaw are the Clan's new apprentices. They are loyal and hard working just as any other.

When the two cats sneak off to prove their hunting skills, they don't find prey.

Instead they make a discovery that may make them wonder what's quite so good about Clan life after all.

PrologueEdit

"A loner may never be a Clan cat, and a Clan cat must never be a loner. This is the simple way it is. That is what your mother always told us. That is our ethos. But you have wronged her. Your sister may be dead, but Clan cats are notorious, they will rear her as their own. She will never know.

"We must seek revenge, and it will come to us. Revenge would never be necessary, if it weren't for you. You let her wonder off by herself! This is all your fault! You are a shame to your sister, a shame to loners! And shaming us, breaking our rule only means one thing!" The small pink-grey she-cat crouched in a corner as a dark cat rose up angrily.

"No! Please, don't hurt me!" The dark cat reared up, amber-red eyes glinting, dusty golden tail sweeping, side to side, side to side.

A wail could be heard ringing through the night.

Chapter 1Edit

"Randompaw! Come on, we're training with Lilypaw and Cloutail today. Wake up!" Randompaw groggily stumbled out of her nest to see her mentor purring with laughter. "Come on, you slow mouse! We're going hunting!"

Randompaw looked at her mentor. "Yes Leopardclaw," she yawned.

"Sound enthusicastic why don't you?" Leopardclaw purred again, and span into a run, heading for the moors.

"Wait for me!" Randompaw scrambled after her. As Randompaw met Cloudtail and Lilypaw on the moors, Leopardclaw was showing a technique for hunting.

"You have to get your body as flat to the ground as you can," she was explaining. "Because if you have your tail up in the air, the prey will see it! There's no undergrowth to hide in here. WindClan are the masters of the moors. No other Clan have the speed or ability to hunt here."

Leopardclaw and Cloudtail each caught a rabbit to show the technique to their apprentices, before telling the two of them that they should go and hunt. Great. An assessment already? I haven't even caught any prey yet! Randompaw was relieved to hear that her mentor was going with her.

~~~~

When the two apprentices an their mentors returned to camp, the sun was sinking in the sky, and each cat held as much prey as they could carry. "Thank StarClan prey was running well today!" Leopardclaw mewed.

Yeah. But I bet we could do better! Randompaw slunk off towards Lilypaw, and whispered in her ear

"I have an idea!"

Chapter 2 Edit

Dusk had fallen. Lilypaw had had to follow Randompaw out into the woods. Randompaw had decided that it would be a great idea to go and prove that they could hunt by themselves just as well as they could with their mentors. And when talking her out of it didn't work, well, Lilypaw had had no choice but to go wth her.

"Hey, Lilypaw! I wonder what that is over there!" A faint, glowing light flickered across the moor.

"It's coming from twolegplace, I don't like the look of it. Come on, we should go home. It's getting dark..." Of course, Randompaw set off towards the light, enchanted by the mysterious circumstances.

If only she'd listen to reason. If there's something nasty in there, then we'll have to have the luck of StarClan with us. Lilypaw sighed, and ran after her friend.

The light got closer and closer, and as the barn morphed into shape amongst the mist, a voice called out.

"Who are you? Go away if you have no reason to be here!" A cat slunk out from the gloom, and another. Lilypaw took a deep breath.

"We are Lilypaw and Randomepaw. We are from WindClan. We didn't mean to intrude. I'm very sorry..." The dark grey-pink cat laughed, and signalled for the Clan cats to go in.

Lilypaw was afraid as she stepped into the unnatural lights of the barn.

Chapter 3 Edit

Stacks and stacks of rectangular hay bales were piled into the barn. There was a small open space at the front of the barn which extended to just past the center. Randompaw stared in awe.

It would be great to live in here! All the mice you want, and it's sheltered and warm!

Lilypaw, however, looked scared and unimpressed. "Who are you, loner? I've never seen you... Or your friend before." A ginger tabby stepped out from the hay bales.

"You have keen senses, Lilypaw. My name is Emily, and this is Julia. Stay as long as you like, just leave before Sundown. Or else we may have to force you to stay. Permanantly." Emily appeared to be joking, but Lilypaw still looked worried. Randompaw didn't think staying at the barn forever would be quite as bad as it seemed.

"What's it like being a loner? Aren't there any other cats, like rogues who want you to join their pack or group? What about living here? Is it nice? Is it-" Randompaw had so many questions, but Lilypaw cut her off.

"Shhh!" Lilypaw whispered. "We don't know these cats, even less that we can trust them!" Lilypaw seemed angry, so Randompaw sat down, silenced. Julia smiled, amused. Emily seemed distant, then spoke out.

"I think you'd best leave. It's nearly sundown."

Chapter 4Edit

As the two apprentices ran back to camp, they caught some prey as to make it look like they'd been hunting. Randompaw couldn't stop thinking of the loners, and what it may be like to be a loner.

Would I want to be a loner?

Randompaw was so caught up in her thoughts, she crashed straight into her mentor. Leopardclaw burst out laughing. "Randompaw, watch where you're going!" Randompaw knew her mentor's strict tone was a joke, but she still felt on edge as Leopardclaw padded off, organising a patrol.

"Psst! Lilypaw!" Lilypaw jumped and swung round.

"Randompaw! You scared me!" she gasped angrily. "What do you want?"

"Should we go see the loners?" Lilypaw appeared shocked.

"We can't! Leopardclaw and Cloudtail promised to take us training today, remember?" Randompaw suddenly remembered. How did I forget? But she did know. Ever since they had met the loners, Randompaw hadn't been able to stop thinking about them. And maybe being a loner herself. It would be good, wouldn't it? No mentors to boss you around, no Clan to feed and fight for...

All during the training session, Randompaw's thoughts kept flicking back to the loners. Distracted, she missed a rabbit. Leopardclaw frowned on her, and Randompaw only thought more about how the loners would be a better life.

"Randompaw!" Leopardclaw said sternly, loudly as she practiced her pounce clumsily. "I don't know what has got into you today! You obviously can't deal with hunting today, so let's go back to camp and you can look after the elders for the rest of the day." Leopardclaw turned to go, and Randompaw ducked her head, shamed and embarassed. She knew her mentor was furious, and that she had good reason to be.

"You have to stop thinking about those loners Randompaw!" Lilypaw sounded very concerned. They were following Cloudtail and Leopardclaw back to camp; the mentors were speaking in hushed voices. Randompaw tried not to listen, but heard words like worried, warrior, disappointed, progress, concern...

"I know." she said simply. Lilypaw seemed taken aback. "Lilypaw, I'm sorry, but I've decided to go and live with them."

Chapter 5Edit

Lilypaw knew she had to follow Randompaw, she knew that it was stupid, and a risk, and that Randompaw should come to her senses. They had got back to camp, and Leopardclaw had sent Randompaw to see to the elders. Randompaw had shouted, saying that she had done nothing wrong. Leopardclaw had then retorted that she should learn some respect and that she had done something wrong now. Randompaw had stormed to the elders, and Lilypaw had gone to Cloudtail for advice. Like her, Lilypaw's mentor was the calmer, less hot headed friend of the pair.

"She'll get over it. There's probably something bothering her, try and find out what it is. Just don't let her do anything stupid." Cloudtail had then told Lilypaw to go and help her friend. Lilypaw found Randompaw collecting up the dirty moss.

"What are you doing, Lilypaw?" Randompaw had snapped. Staying calm, Lilypaw responded

"Are you okay? I mean, you can't really be planning on going to live with t-"

"Shut up!" she shouted, making Morningflower look up in surprise.

"Lilypaw!" she said fondly. Lilypaw forced a smile. "Come do do my ticks?" The old cat winked, and Lilypaw dipped her head. As she went to go and find Bravesoul, Randompaw glared at her. Sighing, she trotted to the medicine cat's den. Featherflame and Thunderstrike were already in there, talking to their brother. Thunderstrike smiled kindly at her, and Featherflame greeted her happily.

"Um, I've come for some mouse bile for Morningflower's ticks..." Lilypaw trailed off. Bravesoul smiled, and disappeared into the den. He returned quickly with a damp ball of moss.

"You know the drill, I believe. Now, if you'd excuse me..." Bravesoul handed it over, and returned to his siblings. Lilypaw retreated from the den as the cats laughed with each other, and raced back to the elders and Randompaw. Entering, she headed over to Morningflower. Looking round she couldn't see Randompaw however.

"Hey, Morningflower, do know where Randompaw went?" Lilypaw asked as inconspicuously as possible. The elder did not seem to notice her concern.

"Randompaw, well, she took all the moss out while you were at Bravesoul's den, and she hasn't come back yet. Soon, I suppose..." The elder started to ramble about when she was an appentice, Lilypaw only listening half heartedly. She knew where Randompaw had gon, and knew that she had to follow. Finishing as quickly as possible, she told Morningflower that she was going to look for Randompaw.

She knew Randompaw had taken a stupid risk, and that maybe if she came back she'd come to her senses. Lilypaw knew this was feeble hope, but clung onto it anyway. But this hope was dispelled as she saw a small shadowy figure slip into the barn. It was Randompaw, and it looked like her mind was set.

Chapter 6Edit

"Hello? Randompaw called out into the dimly lit barn. She saw shadows move, and heard Lilypaw calling her name outside. Guilt pricked her, but she knew that this was what was best for her.

"Randompaw? What are you doing here?" Randompaw jumped. It was Julia, and she looked horrified.

"I've come to stay here, to live with you! I don't want to be in my Clan anymore... Aren't you pleased to see me..?" She was confused by the shock on the loner's faces.

"You should not have come." Emily said, appearing from the shadows. "We would be pleased to have you here, but times are tough. You will be better with your Clan."

"No! I want to live here! I don't want to be in a Clan! I want to live here with you!"

"Stop acting like a selfish kit and get a grip." Julia was venomous, making Randompaw feel hurt inside. They don't want me... Will I have to be alone?

"What Julia means is that we cannot let you stay with us even if we wanted you to, which we do. There is a cat who would n-" Julia hissed, cutting Emily off midsentence.

"Please, leave. It would be best for everyone if we do not see you again. You or Lilypaw. You may stay here for now, but you will have to return to your Clan tonight." Randompaw hung her head, she had thought that the loners would accept her with open arms. Instead they seemed to not want here at all.

"Can I stay for one night? One night and I'll leave. Please, I don't want to go back." Julia and Emily had a furious discussion, whispering at each other before Emily said

"You may stay two nights at the most, but you must leave before full moon. Then you must not come back. I think Lilypaw is outside, Randompaw. You may speak to her. She must either come in or leave." The two loners retreated into the barn, and Randompaw ran over to the door, and sure enough Lilypaw was stood, listening.

"What do you think you're doing Randompaw? I came to find you, no-one knows you're mising yet but what about when you don't come back? Leopardclaw will be out of her mind worrying, and your mother. You think you can just leave, well, you're wrong! Come back, Randompaw. Please. I don't want to be a warrior without you." Lilypaw seemed to believe her words, but Randompaw couldn't.

"You honestly think Leopardclaw would care? She's just a horrid mouse dung to me! I'll miss you, but you can stay too. Please, Lilypaw, let me do this. Tell them I've gone, or stay yourself. You choose." Randompaw looked at her friend. Lilypaw's amber eyes were filled with such sadness, as if she was torn between her Clan or her friend.

"I'm sorry Randompaw, but I will alwas be loyal to WindClan. I will miss you more than you can imagine. Goodbye for now; I will see you in two days. And I pray to StarClan you change your mind." With that, Lilypaw walked out into the twilight, disappearng amongst the shadows.

"Rule one of being a loner: only be loyal to yourself. That way it doesn't hurt as much to leave others behind." Julia said quietly behind Randompaw. Randompaw looked at the two loners, now stood behind her. It was only then she realised how tired Emily looked and how new the scars that marked Julia's pelt were.

"I will stay with you, and I will not ever leave! I promise!" Randompaw vowwed, ignoring the sad, sad looks the loners gave her, as if she had made a terrible mistake, as if an evil was behind her and they had tried to protect her from it. That night was long, and Randompaw couldn't sleep, even though her new nest was comfortable she realised just how much she missed seeing the stars twinkle above her.

Chapter 7Edit

Lilypaw slept restlessly too, her mind thinking over and over how she had told Leopardclaw and the Clan what Randompaw had done. Leopardclaw had blamed herself, telling Lilypaw that she shouldn't have been so harsh, she shouldn't have punished her so much. Lilypaw had tried to tell her that there was nothing she could do but Leopardclaw did not listen. She honestly believed it was her fault, and Lilypaw knew she would be getting little sleep as well.

Lilypaw had gone to Webstar next; the leader had been concerned for Randompaw, and now was worried for her safety. Lilypaw had told him exactly what had happened, and he had had to announce it to the Clan. She though that the job of a leader must be a hard one, having to look after your Clan and announce hard things. After the announcement, Randompaw's mother had broken down. Lilypaw couldn't handle comforting her as well, so she had gone to her den.

Now she lay in her nest worrying about Randompaw. Would she be okay with the loners? Why had she wanted to leave? Would she ever consider coming back? She shuffled again, rolling over and heard a scratching coming from outside the den. It was late; the moon was up so why would any cat be walking around. Lilypaw got up and peeked out of the den. "Cloudtail!" she whispered loudly. Her mentor turned and smiled.

"Good, that got your attention. Come with me, I need to talk to you." They walked out of the camp and onto the hills. The moon shone over the moor brightly, it was almost full. The grass seemed to have a blueish hue, the sky a deep purple. Tiny specks of stars glittered in the night. Lilypaw looked over the hills to a yellow light, small and glowing in the distance.

"Lilypaw, we need her back." That got Lilypaw's attention. "I don't know what she thinks she's doing, but she can't be a loner. It's not a good life, and the chances are rogues are already in control there. If they are and she's there then StarClan help us all. If she gives them information then we could all be doomed. Do you see? Do you see the threat that she is facing us with?" Lilypaw nodded.

"But what can I do? She won't listen. She wouldn't. I- I can't..."

"Friends and foes, blood blurs the line." The two she-cats turned to see Bravesoul step of the shadows. Unbeknownst to them he had a flash of nostalgia from when his mentor had been young and he had found her and her forbidden mate under the moonlight.

"A prophecy?" Lilypaw said. "What does it mean?" Bravesoul tilted his head.

"I don't know any better than you. It may not be quite as literal though. Perhaps we will discover the truth about your family at last, Lilypaw." Lilypaw's eyes widened. She had been found wandering into camp a a kit. She had no memories of a family, only that she had had a sister and had decided to go exploring one day. She had discovered the camp and after three days when no-one had come to find her the Clan had adopted her and she had joined her adoptive family of Thunderstrike and Cinderdove, and her best friend Randompaw.

"I don't- That's... well, wow!" she grinned, unsure how she was feeling. Bravesoul looked solemn though.

"It may well be good, but I think it's a warning nevertheless. This is not going to be easy, Lilypaw." Cloudtail returned from her daydream daze and merely whispered

"Whatever happens, we just need Randompaw back."

Chapter 8Edit

Randompaw missed the stars above her. She was very much enjoying her time in the barn, mice were plentiful and fat and there was no-one who could tell you what to do. It was warm and dry and she counted the loners s friends, even though Julia was grumpy most of the time, Emily was generally pleasant. I could live like this. she thought. Deep inside she missed her Clan and Lilypaw, and she would be sad to give them up for the loners.

"Randompaw," Julia pulled her out of her thoughts. "You've been here two nights, and tonight is the full moon. You must leave before nightfall." Randompaw narrowed her eyes.

"Why? Why can't I stay?" Julia sighed and sat down. Her tail swept along the floor behind her, before coming to a rest in front of her paws.

"Randompaw, you must leave before nightfall. You cannot ask why," Randompaw went to start speaking but Julia stopped her. "I understand it's hard for you to trust us, why should you? Well, we don't want you to leave, but outside factors dictate that you must. In three days, if you decide you want to you can come back, but you must leave today."

"Julia's right." said Emily walking over. "You must leave tonight."

"But why?" Emily looked at Randompaw sternly.

"This was our agreement, Randompaw. You must leave tonight and then in two days you will be free to return, if you wish. It is the full moon, which is why-"

"That's no reason!" Emily stepped forwards, fuming.

"You are nothing more than a mewling kit! This is our barn and you will respect us as you would respect your Clan! Clan cats should not become loners! If you do not listen then you are not fit to stay here! You will leave tonight and not return for two days! Is that perfectly clear?" Shaken, Randompaw stepped backwards. She looked to Julia who had only an expression of slight dismay.

"Very well then. I will return." she whispered. She pushed past the loners and walked out of the barn, feeling their eyes following her. She raced out onto the moor and felt the wind whip past her fur, blowing it into a ruffled mess. She stood with her head up into the wind, and shouted "I will go back! I can be a loner!"

Silence and the whistle of the wind carried her words away. Little did she know the effect they would have. She knew she must return to camp, and she knew Lilypaw would be distraught. It was her fault. But Lilypaw would understand her becoming a loner. She would have to.

It would be her life now.

Wouldn't it?

EpilogueEdit

"I'm so glad you're back Randompaw." Lilypaw and Randompaw were sat on the highest point of their territory. They had been hunting. Randompaw needed an escape from the Clan for a while too. She had been mobbed with questions, where had she been, why this, why that... It hadn't stopped at all.

"I suppose I'm glad too." Lilypaw turned to look at her.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'm going back to live with the loners, Lilypaw." The grey apprentice's mouth dropped open.

"What? Are you serious? You can't just..." Randompaw sighed.

"I want to, Lilypaw. It's where I want to be. Two days, I'm going back, and I'm never coming back here again. It's my life and I want  to be a loner. That's where I belong now."

The silence was long. It would be their last silence.

Or so they thought.

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