Shattered Sky | Chapter 28 of 35

Author: Erin Hunter | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2739 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER 21

Every hair on Twigpaw’s pelt tingled with excitement as she padded along behind the gathered forces of her Clanmates. Violetpaw walked beside her, their fur brushing, on their way to ShadowClan territory. WindClan had joined them at sunset, and now the warriors of four Clans were advancing against Darktail and his Kin.

Twigpaw fluffed out her fur against the chilly evening air. Above her head the sky was growing dark, not just because the sun had gone down, but from clouds that were massing above the lake, bulging with rain. Twigpaw could sense that a storm was coming.

That might help the Clans, or it might not, she thought, splashing through the stream that divided ThunderClan from ShadowClan. All I know is, it’s been a long journey to get this far.

As the Clans advanced into ShadowClan territory, the pine trees stood tall ahead of them, looming in the dim light. Once they entered that part of the forest, Twigpaw knew, they would be fighting almost blind.

The thought brought claws of fear with it, snagging Twigpaw’s heart, and she tried to thrust it away. It will be terrible. . . . We’ll be relying on scent to help us tell friend from foe.

Once Alderheart had reported his understanding of StarClan’s message to Bramblestar, the leaders and deputies had joined together in a quick conference. Then Bramblestar had sent Thornclaw with a message to Onestar, and announced to the cats remaining in the camp what their part in the fighting would be.

Twigpaw’s nose twitched, and she opened her jaws to taste the air, almost gagging on the reek of rogue that flowed into her mouth. “We’re getting close to the ShadowClan camp,” she whispered to her sister.

Violetpaw’s eyes narrowed. “This is it,” she murmured.

Bramblestar halted, raising his tail to signal to his followers that they should do the same. The warriors of ThunderClan, ShadowClan, WindClan, and SkyClan drew close together—a mass of cats, their paw steps almost silent as they padded over the thick layer of pine needles on the forest floor, their eyes gleaming with eagerness.

“Are you ready?” Bramblestar asked Leafstar.

The SkyClan leader gave him a brisk nod, then leaped up onto the lowest branch of a nearby pine tree. With a whisk of her tail she ordered her Clan to follow her.

That’s how SkyClan will attack, Twigpaw thought, her excitement building as she watched. They’ll launch themselves from above, just like Hawkwing said.

Twigpaw knew that the other Clans would use their special skills, too; that was what StarClan had meant when Firestar told them to remember their names. ThunderClan would attack like thunder: full-on, and with brute force; ShadowClan would slip unseen through the darkness of their own territory, with familiarity the rogues could never have; WindClan would dart in and out, quick and elusive.

And RiverClan? For the first time in a long time, Twigpaw felt a prickle of amusement in her belly and chest, tickling her throat. RiverClan’s part is the best! That was such a clever idea of Whitewing’s!

A hiss from above broke into Twigpaw’s thoughts. She looked up to see Hawkwing crouched on a branch above her and Violetpaw.

“Do you want to join me?” he asked. “I’d feel better, knowing you were close.”

At once Violetpaw shook her head. “Thanks, but I’ll fight better down here, on the ground,” she replied. “I know every paw step of this territory.”

“Take care, then,” Hawkwing responded. “Twigpaw, how about you?”

In answer, Twigpaw scrambled up the trunk, excitement surging through her as she balanced beside her father on the branch.

But what do I do, now that I’m up here? she wondered, with a questioning look at Hawkwing.

“Just follow me,” he meowed, as if she had spoken her thought aloud. “You’ll be fine.”

With Hawkwing just ahead of her, Twigpaw began moving from tree to tree. When she dared to look down, she could see the ThunderClan, ShadowClan, and WindClan cats creeping along the forest floor, all of them homing in on the camp where Darktail and his rogues were lurking.

This is amazing! she thought after a few moments, marveling at how quickly she was getting used to balancing on thin branches, and how her fear of falling was slipping away.

“Leafstar told us to fan out when we get close,” Hawkwing told her after a while. “The cats on the ground will attack in a straight line, so the SkyClan cats will be ready to jump down when the rogues try to run off at an angle.”

So he thinks of me as a SkyClan cat, Twigpaw commented to herself. I don’t know about that . . . but now isn’t the time to talk about it. Besides, he probably wasn’t thinking.

As these words ran through Twigpaw’s mind, a ferocious yowl split the night. The cats on the ground charged up the rock-strewn slope that led to the edge of the ShadowClan camp. Following through the trees, Twigpaw could see beyond the tangle of brambles that surrounded the camp, and into the camp itself.

Rogue cats were tumbling out of their dens; clearly they had been asleep, and were surprised by the force of the attack that was being unleashed against them. Twigpaw caught a glimpse of Darktail, a pale shape in the dim light, snarling orders to his Kin, but in the confusion it didn’t seem that any cat was taking notice.

Within a couple of heartbeats, the hollow was filled with screeching, tussling cats. The rogues were hugely outnumbered as Bramblestar’s plan unfolded, with the ThunderClan warriors leading the first attack, while WindClan darted in from the edges of the camp to strike and then retreat before their enemies could retaliate. The ShadowClan cats hovered at the top of the slope, hidden in the shadows and prepared to leap out at any rogues who tried to break away from the camp.

SkyClan’s plan was working, too. Twigpaw saw Nettle wrench himself free from a fight with Tigerheart and flee, yowling, up the slope. Before he could reach the brambles that surrounded the camp, Hawkwing hurtled down, landing right in front of the rogue tom.

Nettle let out a shriek of shock and fear, doubling back to escape Hawkwing’s claws. But Hawkwing was too fast for him, leaping onto Nettle’s back and digging his claws into his shoulders. His caterwaul of triumph reached Twigpaw where she still crouched in the tree.

Oh, that worked brilliantly! Twigpaw thought, warm admiration for her father rushing through her.

Above the camp, the sky was growing darker still. The air shook with the sound of thunder, almost drowning the screeches of the battling cats. A fat drop of rain splashed onto Twigpaw’s fur as the rain began.

Twigpaw’s elation faded. Rain means heavy fur, and heavy fur makes it harder to fight. And even without wet fur, I can’t fight while I’m up here in this tree.

Looking down, Twigpaw spotted her sister, struggling with a rogue tom who was almost twice her size. Without a second thought, she leaped down from the tree, landing on the soft dirt of the camp floor. “Violetpaw! I’m coming!” she yowled, hurling herself into the fight.

As Twigpaw fastened her claws into the rogue’s pelt, dragging him away from her littermate, a flash of lightning lit up the whole forest. By its light, Twigpaw caught a glimpse of Onestar, frozen in sudden stillness as he glared at Darktail.

Then the flash was gone, but there was still enough light for her to see Darktail rearing up and taking a violent swipe at the WindClan leader’s face. Onestar was knocked off balance and hit the earth with a screech, his legs and tail waving in the air.

Another peal of thunder rolled out, but Darktail’s voice rose above it. “Kin! Follow me! If you’re smart enough, retreat with me—you deserve to survive!”

At their leader’s command, the rogue cats—Roach, Raven, and a few others—tore themselves away from fighting with the Clans and raced after Darktail out of the camp. Twigpaw realized that Sleekwhisker and some of the other young ShadowClan warriors had remained with Darktail, and now they fled with him, too. The Clan cats stood back and let them go.

In any other battle, Twigpaw would have been dismayed to see their enemies escaping so easily, but now she felt a fierce satisfaction. It’s all going exactly the way we planned it!

“Follow the rogues!” Bramblestar yowled, pelting up the slope and through the brambles after the vanishing Kin.

Twigpaw swarmed up the nearest tree and began to leap from branch to branch after Darktail and his followers; here and there, she spotted other SkyClan cats doing the same.

Down on the ground, she saw Onestar bounce to his paws and join in the pursuit. “Bramblestar!” he yowled as he went. “Darktail is mine!”

Darktail and the rogue cats headed toward the lake, with the Clan cats streaming after them. By now the rain was thrumming down, plastering Twigpaw’s pelt to her sides and turning the earth beneath the pine trees to glutinous mud. Branches shook down more water onto Twigpaw as she brushed through them, but she didn’t hesitate until she leaped into the last tree at the forest edge, above the pebbly shore that stretched down to the lake. She had only just reached it when the rogue cats burst out into the open.

Now! Twigpaw thought.

Dark shapes rose up out of the shallow water at the edge of the lake. Stunned, the rogue cats skidded to a halt, staring in utter disbelief at the RiverClan warriors who had been lying there in wait. Slowly they began to advance, cutting off the rogues’ retreat.

The rogues spun around and fled back toward the forest, only to be confronted by Bramblestar and Onestar, with the rest of the Clan cats beside them, ranged in a threatening line along the edge of the trees.

As Onestar leaped forward, with the Clans hard on his paws, most of the rogues broke away with terrified shrieks, dodging and diving under outstretched claws as they tried to escape.

Only Darktail stood still, confronting Onestar. Twigpaw watched, her breath coming short and her heart pounding, as the two toms circled each other. Torrential rain drenched them both, lighting flashing above their heads, glittering across the surface of the lake. The rumble of thunder followed it; Twigpaw dug her claws hard into her branch, feeling as if the whole world might be splitting apart.

“You would never have made it as a warrior,” Onestar taunted Darktail. “You would have been better off as a kittypet.”

Darktail let out an enraged shriek and sprang at Onestar. The two toms collided in a tangle of soaked fur, claws, and teeth. Locked together, they rolled down the shore and into the waves that lapped the pebbles.

Still wrestling, Onestar and Darktail rolled over in the water—first one on top, and then the other. A jolt of terror struck through Twigpaw, fierce as the lightning.

What if Darktail drowns Onestar, like he drowned Needletail?

Gradually, the two battling cats moved away from the shore, into deeper and deeper water. For a while, Twigpaw could catch glimpses of a head, a tail, or a lashing paw, until at last both cats sank out of sight and did not reappear. The lake rippled and fluttered as rain battered the surface, but no sign of a cat disturbed the water.

Twigpaw heard a single WindClan warrior’s voice ring out across the lake. “Onestar! Onestar!”

Rogues forgotten, the Clan cats formed a line along the edge of the lake, the waves lapping at their paws. They gazed toward the place where Darktail and Onestar had been fighting. From the trees, Twigpaw and the SkyClan warriors watched, too.

They waited there for a long time, but neither cat resurfaced.

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Comments

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Nicely written. I cried when Needletail died ;(
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batool
thanks i was looking for a website like this to read i just want that could make the full screen best regards
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