Yeah so I wrote this for Jazzy's fanfiction contest and literally no one commented on it on the Blog so I decided to post it here :P (totally not bitter)
She rolled over in her nest, not acknowledging her mentor. She knew, of course, that she had to get up eventually. Whether it was a patrol or training or whatever, Slatestar always managed to find something for her to do.
“I’m waiting, Falconpaw.”
The dark brown she-cat glared at her leader. She seemed to be the only apprentice that didn’t obediently do whatever the gray tom said. Sure, he had all the power in the Clan, but it wasn’t like he was going to banish her just for disobeying. She guessed that was why he made her his apprentice in the first place. He wanted to “keep her in line”.
Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen.
She suddenly felt a sharp prod in her side. “I mean it, Falconpaw.” Slatestar growled.
She let out a long, overdramatic sigh. “Sure,” She murmured before getting to her paws.
She shook out her short, thick pelt, scraps of brown moss fluttering to the ground. She looked to her leader, who was waiting not-so-patiently beside her nest. His long claws scraped against the ground in a rhythm that made Falconpaw’s ears flatten.
“What are we doing today?” She snapped.
The large tom narrowed his large amber eyes at her, seeming to inspect her like a piece of prey. “You should watch your tone, Falconpaw. You’ll never be a warrior if you don’t learn to respect your leader.”
“Fine, Slatestar.” She finally relented. “I’ll do whatever you have planned today without question. Happy?”
Slatestar gave a sharp nod. “Very.”
Padding right next to her leader and mentor, Falconpaw emerged from the apprentice’s den to see RiverClan’s camp buzzing with activity. The camp was surrounded by reeds, the sunlight making beautiful reflections on the sparkling rocks and shells that had been woven into the roofs of all of the dens. Falconpaw had to admit that she loved her Clan, even if she wasn’t the most obedient apprentice. She would do anything to protect them. Well, the cats she liked, at least. And only if she didn’t get hurt in the process.
Tansyleaf, the deputy, was busy organizing the dawn patrol. Falconpaw noticed her brother, Drizzlepaw, standing beside his mentor Lilypetal. Tansyleaf was sorting them into the patrol.
Falconpaw looked up at her mentor with wide eyes, hoping to win his favor. “Can we—”
Letting out a huff, the dark brown apprentice followed Slatestar out of camp. His steps were quick and firm, making Falconpaw scramble to keep up with him. Finally, they arrived near the river. Sunningrocks sat in the middle of the water, rays of sunlight shining onto it. Without a word, Slatestar dove into the river, his massive paws strongly churning the water. He slipped out of the waves onto the small island that held Sunningrocks, letting the water swiftly slip off of his sleek pelt.
Climbing onto the rocks, Slatestar looked back at Falconpaw expectantly. “Make a few circles around the island.” He meowed.
“B-But Slatestar,” She stammered. “I was only made an apprentice a moon ago. I don’t know if I can keep myself afloat for that long.”
“We practiced a bit over the past moon, yes?”
“Well, yes, but—”
“Then it won’t be a problem.” Slatestar stated. He must have sensed her fear, because his tone softened. “If something happens, I’ll be right here to help you.”
She nodded, warily approaching the edge of the water. Small minnows swam near the rocks, silver scales glimmering in the sunlight. Without another thought, the apprentice dove into the river. Using the skills that she had learned from her mentor and family, she used all four of her legs to churn through the thick water. She pulled her head above the waves, making sure to keep her nose and mouth clear of water.
Thank StarClan it’s greenleaf, or else I might have frozen to death.
Now she just had to propel herself forward. She had been treading the water just fine, so she thought that she would be okay to start swimming around the island. Using the current to her advantage, she let the water propel her through the waves. Steering with her paws, she began to swim around the island. She looked up to see Slatestar looking at her approvingly. Moving with more confidence, she ducked her head under the waves, hoping to impress her leader by swimming underwater.
She suddenly felt muffled shouting coming from above the water. She tried to pull her head above the waves, but the water pushed her even farther underneath. Losing her rhythm, her paws began to flail desperately for a log, rock, anything for her to hold onto. Her fur felt heavy with the weight of the water soaking into her pelt. Her legs strained with the effort to hold herself afloat. It seemed like forever had passed, with Falconpaw getting weaker and weaker. A strange peace flooded her. If she just stopped fighting, she wouldn’t have to hurt so much anymore. Without another thought, she stopped trying to fight to get above water. She just let herself sink.
The last thing she saw before she blacked out was the large shape of a cat swimming towards her.
It felt like her ears were full of water. They probably were. She could hear muffled shouts from above her, and her chest pounded like rocks were falling onto it. She blearily opened her eyes, but shut them immediately from the intense light that shone into them.
The rhythmic pounding on her chest became even more urgent, and she had the feeling that she needed to get up. Right now.
Can’t I just lay down a little longer…
She ignored the voice in her head and opened her eyes. Then she immediately turned to the side and retched out river water. Coughing, she scanned her surroundings. The crevices of the medicine den surrounded her. Stonefall, RiverClan’s medicine cat, stood above her, his paws still on her chest, probably from pumping air back into her. She definitely wasn’t in StarClan. Which meant that she was in a lot of trouble.
When she had finally finished coughing and throwing up, she tried to push herself up to a sitting position.
Stonefall looked at her disapprovingly before huffing, “You should rest. You took in a lot of water.”
As much as Falconpaw wanted to lie back down, she wouldn’t let him keep her from training. “I’m good,” She meowed, already getting to her paws. “I just need to talk to Slatestar.”
Hobbling to the entrance of the den, she almost collapsed into a pile of moss. She clenched her teeth. She wouldn’t let her weakness stop her from going to defend herself in front of her mentor.
Just before she could make it out, Drizzlepaw appeared in the entrance. Falconpaw rolled her eyes.
“Where are you going?” Drizzlepaw snapped.
Ignoring her fatigue, Falconpaw rose to her full height. “I’m going to speak to Slatestar.” She sniffed.
Drizzlepaw sighed. “Listen, Falc, I know you’re embarrassed.” He paused a moment to give her a pointed look, and she rolled her eyes. “But you really need to rest.” He finished.
“I feel fine.”
As if StarClan wanted her to make a fool of herself, that was when her legs buckled underneath her. She fell to the ground with a thud, and gave Drizzlepaw a glare that could have cut through stone before he so much as snickered. Without a word, the speckled gray tom slid next to her. She leaned against his shoulder as he led her to an empty nest. Stonefall sat sorting herbs from the other side of the den.
“Shouldn’t you be helping her?” Drizzlepaw meowed to the medicine cat.
Stonefall shrugged, not even looking up at the two apprentices.
“Maybe it’s time he retire.” Falconpaw whispered to her brother. They both started chuckling but were cut short by a hiss from Stonefall.
Falconpaw shrugged, laying down in the nest. She sighed, and had to admit to herself that it felt better to lie down. “Thanks, Driz.” She murmured to her brother after a moment.
The gray tom gave her a soft nod before laying down beside her nest. “Y’know, the whole Clan’s talking about your oh so brave episode in the river earlier.”
Her pelt burning with embarrassment, Falconpaw lied her head on her paws. “How bad is it?”
“You got what you wanted. You’ve finally gotten noticed around here.”
She chuckled dryly. “That was not what I was going for.”
Drizzlepaw lied his head next to hers, his sky-blue eyes softening with sympathy. “Slatestar said that you should be able to start training again in a day or two.”
“Did he say anything else?”
She rolled her eyes. “Such as how he felt about the best apprentice in the Clan almost drowning.”
Drizzlepaw glared at her. “Best apprentice?”
“One of them, at least.”
“I’ll take it.”
Before Drizzlepaw could answer, a shape appeared in the medicine den. Why did it have to be him?
“Falconpaw, are you okay?” Cloverpaw asked, his eyes wide with panic. Before she could answer, he was at her nest. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here earlier,” He meowed. “Russetfox was taking me out for training, so I didn’t know.”
She tried to keep the bile from rising in your throat. “You didn’t have to, Cloverpaw.” She muttered. He really didn’t have to.
“Nonsense.” He murmured.
Drizzlepaw gave her an amused glance before he began to slowly walk away.
“Where are you going?” Falconpaw snapped.
The gray tom paused, as though in thought. “Hunting.” He meowed. “Have fun you two.”
Before Falconpaw could ask him not to leave her with the most annoying tom in the world, he was gone. Fabulous…
Cloverpaw had always had a not-so-secret crush on Falconpaw. He even once gave her some flowers. She had ended up sneezing all over him because of the pollen in said flowers, but he hadn’t stopped there. Falconpaw was on her last nerve with him. She did have to admit that she liked the attention, though.
Cloverpaw began babbling about his training. The ginger tom was only a few sunrises younger than her, so they had had their apprentice ceremonies at the same time. Their training was almost always together, so there was barely a time where Cloverpaw didn’t have an excuse to be around her.
“Hey,” Falconpaw interrupted Cloverpaw while he was in the middle of a boring story about catching a trout. He paused, his wide amber eyes resting adoringly on her. She began to speak, not really knowing what she wanted to say, only that she wanted him away from her, “Can you get Slatestar for me? I want to speak with him.”
Cloverpaw was already slipping out of the medicine den before she had finished speaking. Falconpaw sighed through her nose, resting her head on her paws. Impatiently tapped her claws on the ground, she sat up with a start when Slatestar appeared in the den.
“I’m glad to see you’re awake.” Slatestar rumbled.
“No thanks to you.” Snapped Falconpaw.
“What are you talking about? I <em>saved</em> you.”
“But I told you that I wasn’t ready to swim by myself.”
“And I’m your mentor.” growled Slatestar. “And your leader. I know what’s best for you. I also knew that you were doing fine before you started to get cocky and tried to do something you couldn’t do. Now I hope that you’ve learned a valuable lesson.”
She rolled her eyes and gave him a glare. “What kind of lesson?”
“That you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.” Slatestar whirled around and started to trot out of the den. “And I want you on dawn patrol first thing tomorrow.”
Dawn patrol was definitely the most boring job. RiverClan’s entire border with ThunderClan was a river, and everyone knew that ThunderClan cats couldn’t swim even if Thunderstar came down from StarClan and forced them to.
Falconpaw lazily followed Slatestar, Russetfox, Cloverpaw, and Fernfrond as the patrol made their way along the river border. The noises of the river water tricking over stones almost overwhelmed the sounds of birds chirping from above. As Falconpaw had predicted, the patrol hadn’t seen any cats invading or anything, so it was incredibly boring.
Her eyes staring straight down at her paws, Falconpaw didn’t notice Slatestar’s warning until Fernfrond dragged her by the scruff into the bushes. “What was that for—”
Her hiss was interrupted by Fernfrond’s tail slapping over her muzzle. She glared at him, but her eyes widened when she saw the twoleg kits making their way over the Twoleg Bridge. Her heart sped up, and she threw a quick glance over to Cloverpaw, who looked just as terrified as she felt.
She had heard stories about twolegs abducting cats, poisoning them, even chasing them away from their territories. She knew that these twolegs were just kits, but that didn’t change the fact that they could be dangerous.
There were three of the twoleg kits on the Twoleg Bridge. They were all holding strange sticks. One of them slung its stick over the front of its shoulder, and a meshy string fell into the water. Falconpaw squinted, intrigued by what the kits were doing with the sticks.
The patrol waited in the bushes for what seemed like forever, and Falconpaw’s legs started to get sore. Finally, one of the twoleg kits began to squeal. Falconpaw flattened her ears. The kit pulled up its stick, and the meshy string was pulled out of the water. Falconpaw gasped. There was a fish on the end of the stick!
She threw a quizzical glance to Cloverpaw, who looked just as confused as she was. Slatestar, Russetfox, and Fernfrond, however, were not surprised. Finally, after it felt like her legs would give out, the twoleg kits left the river behind. Once Slatestar seemed confident that the kits were really gone, the patrol emerged from the bush.
“What were those stick-thingies?” Cloverpaw burst out as soon as the entire patrol was out of cover.
“Those are what the twolegs use to catch fish.” Russetfox explained, the tom’s whiskers twitching amusingly.
“What?” Falconpaw squeaked. “Twolegs fish too?”
Slatestar nodded. “Yes, but usually kits don’t go by themselves. I’m worried that they’ll wander farther into our territory.”
Falconpaw shuddered. The last thing she wanted was twoleg kits to get in the way of her training. After the patrol finished marking the borders, they made their way back to camp. As they were walking back, Cloverpaw scrambled up beside Falconpaw.
“It was so cool watching twolegs fish!” He squealed.
“I’m more worried about twolegs coming into our territory.” She growled.
“It’ll never happen.”
“If it does, then I’ll chase ‘em off our territory once and for all!” She announced.
The ginger tom looked at her adoringly. “Absolutely.”
She rolled her eyes and pushed past Cloverpaw, opting to trot back to camp by herself. She noticed the scent of mouse drifting past her, but she was too frazzled to hunt. When she got pushed through the reeds that led to the camp, she saw Drizzlepaw pawing at the fresh-kill pile.
“Driz!” She exclaimed, barreling into him. “Guess what I saw on patrol?”
“Uhhh… The border?”
“No, mouse-brain. I saw twoleg kits fishing!”
Drizzlepaw barked a laugh. “You saw twolegs dipping their giant paws into the water, trying to grab fish. How are they supposed to do that with such weird claws?”
“They had special sticks that caught the fish for them.”
Drizzlepaw rolled his eyes. “I’m not that gullible, Falc.”
She sighed. “Whatever. I don’t have to prove anything to you.”
She slapped her tail across his muzzle before clawing a water vole out of the fresh-kill pile, dropping onto the ground. She took a big bite out of the vole, and gulped it down ravenously.
“You must be pretty hungry from using your tiny brain to think of a way to fool me into thinking that dumb twolegs could catch fish.” Drizzlepaw meowed.
She glared at him. “Ask any warrior. They’ll tell you.”
“Fine. I will.”
She waited patiently while Drizzlepaw left for a moment, taking small bites of her water vole. When he reappeared, his blue eyes were wide with surprise. “Tell me about the twolegs.”
“Try harder, Falconpaw!”
Her shoulder wrenched as she was ungracefully thrown to the ground, dust clouding all around her. She let out a small cough before getting to her paws, trying to ignore the world spinning around her. It seemed that Slatestar didn’t feel the need to let her have easier training sessions after her almost-drowning experience just a few sunrises ago. Drizzlepaw wasn’t going easy on her either. The gray tom circled her once more, his ears flattened but confidence swimming in his blue gaze.
Trying to keep her claws sheathed, she leapt at her brother, landing a few blows before he pushed back into her, making her fall to the ground. He kept her pinned, but she went limp. When he released the pressure, she exploded towards him, making him fall to his side. She tried to kick him with her back legs, but he got back to his paws before she got the chance. With more strength than she thought her brother had, he pushed his paws into her shoulders and pinned her to the ground. Although she struggled, he wouldn’t release his hold. Finally giving up, she muttered, “I surrender.”
“What was that?” Drizzlepaw asked mockingly. “I couldn’t hear you over the sound of my victory.”
“Oh, shut up.” She growled.
Slatestar stalked towards her, and she couldn’t help but think that he liked to specifically set her up in situations where she would fail. “Falconpaw, you have to use your brain, not your temper.”
“What does that even mean?” She hissed.
“It means that if Drizzlepaw were a warrior from an invading Clan, you would have lost.”
Falconpaw rolled out of Drizzlepaw’s grip, pushing herself back up. “I thought you said that when I became an apprentice it would take at least a couple of moons before I would be allowed to train for battle. What changed?” She asked Slatestar.
“The twoleg kits showed up again yesterday.” He meowed. “If they venture farther into our territory, every cat able needs to be able to fight.”
“What, and attack twoleg kits?”
“Only enough to scare them away.” Slatestar reassured her.
Drizzlepaw swiped a paw over his ear. “Well, I think I’m all set.” He meowed cockily.
Lilypetal, his mentor, gave him a small glare. “If you think like that, then you’re definetly not.”
Falconpaw snickered, but Drizzlepaw just stuck out his tongue at her.
“Can we just try fishing or something?” Falconpaw asked Slatestar. She wasn’t interested in embarrassing herself again.
Slatestar stared at her intensely for a moment before nodding stiffly. “Try it in that stream over there.”
Duh. It’s the only stream there is around the beech copse.
She slowly padded up to the stream, crouching beside the silver water. Minnows teemed through the lapping waves, and Falconpaw lifted a shaking paw to the water. Suddenly, all the minnows disappeared. Letting out a hiss of annoyance, she turned to see her mentor’s reaction. Instead, she saw Slatestar, Drizzlepaw, and Lilypetal’s eyes wide with fear. Lilypetal immediately bean pushing Drizzlepaw up the nearest beech, the tom’s claws scrambling wildly on the bark.
Falconpaw walked up to Slatestar in a daze, her heart beating wildly. “What’s going on?”
“Twolegs are coming.” Slatestar murmured.
That was when Falconpaw noticed the overwhelming scent of twolegs. Their pounding paws were shaking the ground around her. They were what scared the minnows, not her. She turned her head, trying to locate the twolegs.
“Falconpaw!” Slatestar hissed. “Up the tree, now!”
Her paws were frozen to the ground. Her breathing was starting to get even more labored, and her chest was rising and falling quicker than she thought was possible. The twolegs are going to take me away. I’m going to die.
The world started spinning around her. Her legs were shaking. She could vaguely sense Slatestar pushing her towards the looming beech, but the crushing panic in her chest wouldn’t allow her legs to move.
Drizzlepaw and Lilypetal were safely on the highest branch. She could hear the shrieks of the young twolegs coming nearer and nearer. Drizzlepaw’s wide blue eyes were trained on her. “Falc, please! Climb!”
Slatestar started pushing harder and harder. Falconpaw finally found the strength to move her paws. She unsheathed her claws, pushing herself onto the beech. She scrambled onto the lowest branch, and lied there, her sides heaving.
“You have to go higher, Falconpaw!” Slatestar called from the ground.
She jumped to back onto the trunk and climbed until she reached the branch just below the one Drizzlepaw and Lilypetal were clinging to. She held on as tight as she could, and closed her eyes with relief.
“Slatestar!” Lilypetal screeched from above her.
She looked down and saw Slatestar still on the ground. He began to climb the beech, his long claws and strong legs pushing him up easily. But the twolegs pounded into the copse, holding a strange mesh cage. One of them reached for Slatestar, who wasn’t nearly high enough to escape their evading paws. He started clawing wildly at the twoleg, but another came and started holding Slatestar down. Falconpaw couldn’t tear her eyes away as they pushed him into the mesh cage. His green eyes widened in fear, and he frantically clawed at the cage. Still, he was trapped, and there was nothing any cat above could do about it.
One of the twolegs pointed to the cats in the tree. Falconpaw screwed her eyes shut, knowing that she, Lilypetal, and Drizzlepaw were next. But the other twoleg shrugged, and they both left, their giant paws pounding loudly through the forest.
It felt like seasons had passed before she moved a muscle. Lilypetal was the first to climb down the tree. Drizzlepaw followed, and Falconpaw reluctantly climbed down as well. When they were all safely on the ground, and there was no sign of any twolegs, Drizzlepaw was the first to speak.
“Did that really just happen?”
“Yes,” muttered Falconpaw. “And it’s all my fault.”
Russetfox stared at Lilypetal blankly. “Slatestar is gone?”
Lilypetal nodded solemnly, and Falconpaw hung her head with shame. “I’m the one who took so long to climb up the tree!” Falconpaw wailed. “It should be me that was taken, not Slatestar. He’s the one that pushed me up the tree in the first place.”
Lilypetal turned to Falconpaw and opened her mouth, probably to reassure the young apprentice, but Russetfox pushed past both of them silently before the white-and-yellow she-cat could say anything.
Of course Russetfox was upset. He and Slatestar were mates. Falconpaw took that away from them. Lilypetal turned again to Falconpaw. “It’s not your fault.” She meowed. “You should just get some rest.”
The brown she-cat nodded meekly, pushing her way back into the apprentice’s den. She collapsed in her nest and buried her head in her paws.
“I’m so sorry, Falconpaw.” She heard a gentle voice say to her. She looked up and saw Cloverpaw.
“Get out of here!” Falconpaw wailed to the ginger tom. “Just leave me alone for once.”
She didn’t look up to see him go, but she could hear his paw-steps dragging out of the den. Good.
Was Slatestar gone forever? Was Tansyleaf sending a patrol to find him? Falconpaw sat up immediately. If Tansyleaf was sending a patrol, she needed to be in it. She owed Slatestar that much.
She scrambled out of her nest, trotting back into camp. Every cat was talking about Slatestar. It seemed like every cat was in camp too. Good. It meant that no twolegs could capture any cat. Unless the twolegs discovered the camp. She shook her head to herself. She wouldn’t think that way.
She noticed a group of senior warriors, the deputy, and the medicine cat talking together near the edge of camp. She carefully crept up to them, hoping to hear them discussing a way to find Slatestar.
“We have to find him!” Russetfox insisted.
Stonefall swept a paw over his ear. “We can’t if we don’t even know where to look for him.”
“Especially if the twolegs disguised his scent with their stench.” Muttered Streamsplash, her tail twitching nervously.
“Well we can’t do nothing.” Tansyleaf meowed.
Stonefall looked at the deputy sympathetically, an emotion you didn’t usually see on the stoic medicine cat. “We could go to the moonstone.”
Before Tansyleaf could answer him, Falconpaw pushed her way between the older cats. “Are you cats insane?” She hissed. “We have to look for Slatestar! He saved me!”
“Falconpaw, this isn’t your business.” Streamsplash growled.
Russetfox whirled on the silver she-cat. “It doesn’t matter. She’s right. We can’t just leave Slatestar in the paws of those twolegs!” He hissed.
“We’ll figure it out tomorrow.” Tansyleaf meowed calmly.
“Every moment we wait is another moment that Slatestar could be getting hurt, or worse.” Russetfox growled before stalking off.
Falconpaw whirled on the warriors. How can they even call themselves warriors if they won’t help their leader? She thought. Not if I have anything to do with it.
“Driz!” She hissed quietly.
The gray tom rolled over in his nest. “Just a little while longer, Lilypetal.” He mumbled.
“I’m not Lilypetal, you mouse-brain!” She hissed.
Drizzlepaw opened one eye. “Falc, why are you waking me up?” He scanned his surroundings, sitting up. “And in the middle of the night.”
The claw-scratch of a moon hung in the middle of the sky. Every other cat was asleep. “We’re going to look for Slatestar.”
His eyes widened. “Are you crazy?”
“Maybe.” She muttered. “But some cat needs to save him! And I’m going whether you come with me or not.”
Drizzlepaw sighed. Falconpaw tapped her claws on the ground nervously. The tom finally stood up, shaking scraps of moss from his pelt. “Fine.” He muttered. “But only because you need someone to protect you.”
Falconpaw rolled her eyes, but was secretly relieved that her brother was going with her. “Come on, then!”
She and Drizzlepaw snuck through the RiverClan camp under the shelter of the night, using the dirt-place to exit the camp in order to avoid Tigerflower, who was guarding the entrance.
Once she and her brother were safely in the forest, Drizzlepaw asked, “What’s the plan?”
“There is no plan.” Falconpaw meowed. “We just search the twolegplace and try to find Slatestar.”
Drizzlepaw stopped in his tracks. “You’re telling me that you dragged me out of my nest in the middle of the night and don’t even have a plan?”
Falconpaw rolled her eyes and turned to her brother. “Then you come up with a plan.”
He squinted, as though in concentration, then shook his head. “I guess we’ll just do what you said.”
She snorted before she began walking again, Drizzlepaw catching up to her. She had never been to twolegplace before, and it sent a buzz of excitement through her. She wouldn’t freeze like she had earlier that day. She would save Slatestar. Besides, the twolegs would probably be asleep, right?
She and her brother trotted along the familiar paths of RiverClan territory until they arrived at the border between Clan territory and the outside world. Her paws tingled in anticipation. She crossed the border without hesitation, but Drizzlepaw hung back.
“Driz?” She asked, looking back. “What’s wrong?”
The gray tom stared at his paws. “After we cross the border, there’s no going back. We haven’t been trained for this, Falc. We don’t know what’ll be out there.What if we end up the same way as Slatestar?”
Falconpaw shook her head violently. “If we don’t do it, no one will. Besides, what’s wrong with a little adventure? Think of the stories we’ll tell our Clanmates.”
He sighed. “Alright. I really hope this works.”
Drizzlepaw finally stepped over the border, his head held high. Falconpaw gave him a short nod and began trotting towards the unnatural lights she could see only a few dips and valleys away. The twolegplace.
Her paws were sore and dragging on the ground by the time she made it to the border of the twolegplace. Drizzlepaw’s sides were heaving and his eyes were glazed over with exhaustion, but he gave her a victorious glance. It was already past moonhigh, but Falconpaw figured that she and her brother would have just enough time to find Slatestar and get back to camp.
The acrid stench of monsters and twolegs engulfed her nostrils. She flattened her ears, and she and Drizzlepaw began to walk side by side through the winding labyrinth of the twolegplace. It was mostly quite, all of the dens dark. Besides the occasional whiff of dog or the sleeping figure of a monster crouched in a nest, they encountered no trouble.
They carefully approached every twoleg nest they encountered, looking through the strange, clear, and hard material, searching for the figure of Slatestar. They couldn't scent him, but that was probably because of the strong smell of monsters and rubbish that engulfed their noses.
After what felt like a million dens, Falconpaw stared up at the sky in dismay. “It's almost dawn and we haven’t even found a trace of Slatestar!” She wailed.
“I guess we can search a little longer.” Drizzlepaw murmured, swaying on his paws.
She rolled her eyes. "You can hardly stand, you’re so tired.”
He sighed. “I hate that we came here for nothing.” He muttered. “One more den?”
Falconpaw nodded, already padding towards the towering orange fence in front of her. She scrambled to the top, a vision of her frantically trying to climb up the tree before Slatestar being taken away briefly flashing through her mind. She tottered on the thin ledge of the top of the fence, watching Drizzlepaw follow suit. They both surveyed the twoleg den in from of them . It didn’t look different from any of the other dens, a red ruddy material making up the walls and the obsolete gray creating a slanting roof.
She quickly leapt down from the fence, immediately landing in the too-bright grass on the other side of the fence. A thudding noise behind told her that Drizzlepaw followed. She and her brother sniffed every small flower for a whiff of Slatestar’s scent, but all they came up with was the overbearing sweet smell of the flowers. Drizzlepaw suddenly stopped, his nose twitching.
“What?” Falconpaw asked. Her heart sped up in anticipation. Had he scented Slatestar?
Drizzlepaw’s mouth gaped open. “I scent food. And it smells good.”
Her stomach grumbled loudly. She hadn’t eaten anything since before Slatestar was captured. She couldn't resist. “Where?"
Drizzlepaw angled with his ears to the edge of the twoleg den, which was swathed in shadow. She gaped open her jaws and breathed in the scent. It smelled like a bird, but with the same acrid stench that twolegs carried with them mingled in as well. She and her brother tentatively crept up to the source of the scent, and saw an open cage sitting in the shadows.
“Driz!” She meowed, getting excited. “This was the same cage the twolegs used to capture Slatestar!” She crept closer to it and breathed in the scent, just to be sure. “It has his scent on it!” It was faint, but it was there. They had found the den of the twolegs that had taken her mentor.
Her brother’s eyes widened with excitement. “We did it!” He meowed. “I’m still pretty hungry though…” He murmured, motioning with his tail to the food sitting inside Slatestar’s cage. It was so close that the food’s oder was tantalizing, and made Falconpaw’s mouth water.
The cage was wide open. Falconpaw looked around the yard once more to make sure that no twolegs could sneak up on them. “Well, there aren’t any twolegs around to trap us in the cage.” She meowed.
Drizzlepaw licked his lips. “That’s good enough for me.”
The gray tom crept into the cage. It was long, but not that wide. Drizzlepaw’s fur poked out of the holes through the sides, but he looked like he had enough room to turn around if need be. He slowly crept towards the dish that held the bird, but he stepped on a thin, gray platform on the bottom of the cage. As soon as his foot pressed down of the platform, the cage suddenly snapped shut.
Falconpaw shrieked, beginning to claw and bite at the cage. She couldn’t lose her brother too. Her teeth and claws began to ache, but she still kept going. Suddenly blood began to well at her claws. She didn’t care.
“Falc,” Drizzlepaw murmured after what felt like seasons of trying to get him out of the cage. "There's nothing you can do all by yourself.”
“No!” She yelped. “I won’t lose you.” She continued clawing at the cage. She felt that if she just kept trying for a little longer, it would pop right open and her brother would be free.
“Eventually the twolegs will come for me. And I'm not going to let you be here when that happens.”
She glared at him. Not out of hatred, but of pain. “Driz, I’m not leaving you.”
His eyes misted over. “Just go.” His voice cracked in pain. “I know that you’ll come back for me with help. And then we can free Slatestar.”
She shook her head. “No.”
Suddenly she could hear the high pitched shriek of a twoleg’s voice, coming from inside the house. And it was getting closer.
She looked up at the sky. Dawn had already broke, the orange and pink sky’s beauty contrasting with the darkness of her situation. She looked at Drizzlepaw. His large blue eyes were pleading.
She could now hear the thump of the twoleg's paws. They would be outside at any moment. She finally turned her back to the cage, swiftly climbing to the top of the fence. She couldn’t believe she was doing this. She was leaving her brother at the mercy of the twolegs. Just like Slatestar. Why had she failed everyone around her?
She turned back to get one last glimpse of Drizzlepaw. “I’ll come back for you.” She choked.
Drizzlepaw nodded at her determinedly before she leapt off of the other side of the fence and ran through the winding streets of twolegplace, her paw pads burning with pain. She didn’t know how to get out of the labyrinth of dens, but she just kept running until she reached the forest. She was the only one who knew where Drizzlepaw and Slatestar were being kept. She was the only one that could save them.
When she finally left the twolegplace behind, she allowed herself to rest. She wouldn’t think about Drizzlepaw or Slatestar. She sat down and licked the blood out of her claws, smoothing down her fur. When her breathing had calmed down, she walked through the hills and valleys until she made it to RiverClan territory.
She sat on the border, waiting for a patrol. It was just around the time when dawn patrol would be coming to this border. It wasn’t long until the shapes of Tigerflower, Streamsplash, Cypressleaf, Nightpaw, and Flywhisper appeared in the distance. When they finally arrived at the border, Tigerflower gasped. “Falconpaw, where have you been?”
“I need to speak to Tansyleaf.”
“Are you crazy?” Tansyleaf shrieked.
She shrugged. Streamsplash looked at her disapprovingly, but Stonefall and Russetfox looked pleased.
“Tansyleaf, now we know where Slatestar is!” Russetfox exclaimed.
Tansyleaf looked horrified. “But Drizzlepaw is in the paws of those twolegs!” She spat the word “twolegs" out like poison. “And we don’t even know how to save Slatestar and Drizzlepaw. We know what den they're trapped in, if the twolegs even kept them there at all, but we have no idea how to even get them out!”
Falconpaw shrunk in her pelt. She felt horrible about leaving Drizzlepaw behind. The only way she could live with herself was the thought that she had the information needed to save him. And now Tansyleaf was saying that it all could have been for nothing?
Stonefall clawed at the ground. “We have to try.”
“If we do,” Falconpaw murmured. “I need to help. I need to fix this mess that I created.”
“Tansyleaf, I’m not leaving my mate there to die.” Russetfox begged.
“Alright,” Tansyleaf meowed. “but we need a plan.”
Drizzlepaw and Falconpaw’s father had died a moon before they were born. Their mother, while she was kitting. They only had each other. And Falconpaw wasn’t going to let twolegs drive them apart.
These were the only thoughts she was focused on as she crouched in the shadows of what Tansyleaf called an “alley" in the twolegplace. The plan was simple enough, but Falconpaw couldn't shake the feeling that she would just mess everything up again. She wouldn’t allow herself to this time. She wasn’t going to lose Drizzlepaw or Slatestar again.
She had never liked Slatestar all that much, and always felt that he was a horrible mentor and that he was too strict. But he was only trying to make her the best warrior she could possibly be. And he had saved her from those twolegs by sacrificing himself. If that wasn't a good mentor, or even a good leader, then she didn’t know what was.
She shook her head, trying to focus on the situation. Cloverpaw was crouched next to her, his ginger fur fluffed up against the cold. She realized that she probably owed him an apology for snapping at him earlier.
“Hey,” She murmured. Cloverpaw turned his head, distrust still shown in his expression. “I’m sorry for snapping at you earlier. And for snapping at you… All the times before.” She meowed lamely.
Cloverpaw’s eyes warmed up. “It’s okay. It’s kinda part of the fun.”
She rolled her eyes playfully. She was glad that was cleared up.
She and the other apprentice waited there for what seemed like seasons, until a flash of white darted into the alley. Flywhisper crept up to them, his white pelt a deep contrast to the dark shadows of the alley. “It's time.” He meowed. “Tansyleaf, Sorrelpetal, and Russetfox are distracting the twolegs.”
Falconpaw jumped to her paws, beginning to follow Flywhisper out of the alley.
“Wait,” Cloverpaw meowed. “How do we know that Drizzlepaw and Slatestar are even in the den? The twolegs could have brought them somewhere else.”
Falconpaw paused. “We can at least try.”
The ginger tom nodded, and the three cats snuck across twolegplace. When they finally arrived at the house where Drizzlepaw had been captured, they saw two huge twolegs screeching in the yard. The plan must have worked. Cloverpaw, Falconpaw, and Flywhisper quickly crept up the bright orange fence and dropped into the yard. Russetfox, Sorrelpetal, and Tansyleaf were clawing at the twolegs in order to distract them. It seemed like it was working.
They quickly crept up to a opening in the den and slipped inside. The den smelled overwhelmingly like twolegs, and made Falconpaw's nose scrunch up in disgust.
“You each search different parts of the den.” Flywhisper ordered.
Falconpaw nodded curtly, slipping into a part of the den with a ton of pelts piled up on a large piece of material. She searched the area, but she couldn’t find any trace of Slatestar or Drizzlepaw. She was about to stick her nose in a strange box-like thing in order to find a scent, but she heard a screech from the other end of the den.
“I found them!”
Falconpaw scrambled towards Cloverpaw's voice, her claws sliding on the hard wood floor. She finally arrived in a dark, dimly lit space.
She whipped her head around to see her brother inside a cage in the corner of the room. She scrambled towards him, clawing at the cage. Cloverpaw was struggling to open a different cage in a different part of the room.
“Slatestar!” She exclaimed, overjoyed. She trotted to Slatestar’s cage in the other part off the room. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t fast enough while climbing that tree. Otherwise this wouldn’t have happened.”
Slatestar's eyes softened. “Falconpaw, this is not your fault. I’m glad that you came for me.”
She puffed her chest up. She turned to see Flywhisper clawing at Drizzlepaw’s cage. She rushed over to them, helping Flywhisper.
“Go for the clasp on the outside.” Drizzlepaw meowed.
She saw a metal piece sticking out and started pulling on it with her teeth. Her teeth began to ache. Flywhisper pulled at the cage while she was puling on the clasp. Suddenly, the cage popped open. Drizzlepaw rushed out, touching noses with Falconpaw before all three cats rushed to Slatestar’s cage. Cloverpaw was pulling on the clasp. Falconpaw and Drizzlepaw pulled on the door of the cage with their claws. The cage opened and Slatestar slipped out. They didn’t have time to celebrate. They sill had to get out of the twoleg’s den.
All five cats snuck through the halls of the den, hearing the calls of the twolegs growing closer and closer. They began to run faster until they slipped through the opening of the den. Russetfox, Tansyleaf, and Sorrelpetal followed them as they climbed up the fence and dropped onto the other side. Falconpaw flatted her ears at the screeching of the twolegs and followed the rest of the patrol as they ran out of the twolegplace once and for all.
The river flowed swiftly through the night, the light splash of minnows and the soft chirping of crickets the only thing any cat could hear over the rushing water. Falconpaw sat alone at the edge of the water, wanting a break from the gossip of the RiverClan cats about the day's events.
After they had escaped twolegplace, she had gotten congratulations from just about the whole Clan, but it didn’t feel as good as she thought it would. All she had wanted was to get her mentor and brother back. And she had.
“Mind if I join you?” She whipped her head around to see Slatestar padding up to her and she relaxed.
“Okay.” She mumbled.
Slatestar sat next to her. “I’m very proud of you for helping save me from those twolegs.”
“I’m the reason you and my brother got captured in the first place.”
“But you saved us. And that’s what matters.”
She shrugged, not really feeling as much pride as satisfaction.
“I think that I've found a warrior name for you.” Slatestar announced.
She shrugged, not really caring as much as she would have before this whole incident. “I think I’ll focus on being an apprentice for a while.”
She looked up at Slatestar, who chuckled softly. “I think you’ll be a fine one.”