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   Chapter 5 Training in the Sandy Hollow

City of Ice and Fire By Grace Estellar Characters: 16524

Updated: 2019-08-09 15:23

******Sparkpaw's POV******

Dream Sequence....

Sparkpaw's tail swished the long grass behind her as she snuck through the undergrowth. The canopy was patchy here; letting rays of sunshine touch the dry ground here and there, heating it up. The rays that washed over her sparked her over fur like it was a fresh flame. It was like making fire ignite, or this case giving her a strange itch she couldn't name.

Careful not to step on the crunchy stems that littered the forest floor, Sparkpaw trotted forward at a curious pace. This forest was unlike any she'd seen before, not that she had much to compare it to. Now the trees were beginning to thin out; streaks of heather and peat filled her vision. Faintly, her mind connected that she was going into WolfClan territory.

The moor stretched endlessly before her, giving her all the space she needed to break out into a run. Sparkpaw had not the slightest idea as to why she was here but yet...she understood she needed to go further. There was a tugging force inside the young apprentice, pulling her forward. She let it control her movements, stumbling on what must've been WindClan's camp.

The land, like the rest of the territory was smooth. It consisted mostly of sand and parched tussocks of grass. There were a few scraggly bushes that she guessed were dens, and a cave or two that seemed to serve the same purpose. There were cats there now, there paws scuffling as they headed away from camp. From the looks of it, the group made up the entire clan.

"Wait! Wait for me!" She called, running after them. WolfClan cats were known to make up some of the fastest cats in all the clans. Their speed came from spending their entire lives on the moor, running often.

Despite her calls, the cats didn't seem to here her. She did everything she could to try and get their attention. Sparkpaw even went as far to run into one of them, a silver furred she-cat that looked to be around her age. The other cat was supporting what looked to be her brother. The tom was heavily injured, looking like he was in deep pain if the grimace on his face was anything to go by.

Instead of hitting the she-cat's flank as planned, Sparkpaw ran through the two strangers as though she was nothing but a ghost. The thought was unsettling to say the least. So was how the two cats continued their pace forwards, completely unaffected by Sparkpaw's attempts to grab their attention.

Ultimately, she decided to keep following WolfClan to see where they went. Hopefully that would give her a clue as to why she was there. The lithe cats slipped through the heather tunnel entrance with ease, their silhouettes dull compared to the bright sky.

These cats looked lean compared to HunterClan cats, but from Clary's understanding they are one of the strongest clans there is. Underneath their pelts lay the power to transform into wolf-like creatures. Sparkpaw had jokingly termed it as 'wolfing out' to which Arrowheart rolled his eyes at her.

The two had been training for over two weeks now, during which she hadn't yet been successful in making the black tom laugh. He'd corrected her, calling the wolf like cats the correct term of 'werecats'. Sparkpaw determined that she would keep trying, there had to be something her stoic mentor would laugh at.

So the WolfClan cats made their journey through the fields. The grasslands stretched before them, with a few scraggly trees here and there. It was so strange compared to the woods of HunterClan or the neighborhood she'd been raised in. The land just seemed strangely empty to her. Sparkpaw's pelt prickled with unease....hoping she'd figure out why she was there soon so she could go home.

The grass was springy under paw, it made crunching noises as she bounded on it. The Clan cats were weaving through the heather, mindful of the prickly thorn thickets as they went. A huge gray rock loomed up before them now.

Clary thought they'd go there, but right before they reached it Rookstar veered away, bounding into an area with patchy peat covering the floor. Some snatches of wool blew in the breeze from sheep living on the farm nearby.

They came to a halt a few tail lengths from the river. The roaring water was crashing against the sand, wild and untamed. As Sparkpaw was at the back of the crowd, she strained to see what all the cats were gathered around. It was a few seconds later she made the connection that she could slip past them all to the front, so she did so hastily.

It turned out there was a deep hole in the ground that Rookstar and the other cat's were gathered around. The leader was speaking loudly now, his voice carrying to reach all the cats gathered. The leader's clan mates listened on wearily, looking worse for wear.

"WolfClan, it is with great sorrow that we must leave our home. We can stay here no longer." He sounded sad, his shoulders drooping.

Murmured gasps echoed from the assembled cats. The tom beside Rookstar silenced them. He was Grayfur, the WolfClan deputy. Come to think of it, the gray tom looks awfully familiar to her....

"Rookstar wouldn't be suggesting this unless there was no other way. You need to trust our leader is only doing what's best for us." Grayfur told them. The other cats quieted at that, a somber mood reaching through them.

"Thank you Grayfur. Now let's get a move on. The tunnel will lead us to some place safe and away from the likes of FangClan and their rogues." Rookstar ordered.

The cats streamed into the tunnel single file line, disappearing into the black abyss. Sparkpaw tried to follow them, but found she couldn't. Instead everything started to fade into a brilliant white. Sparkpaw floated midair, unable to see anything but a stark emptiness.

A booming voice sounded now, making her wince at its amplitude. "THE FIVE CANNOT BE FOUR...DO NOT LET THE WOLVES RUN ASTRAY....RUN ASTRAY...TO THE TUNNELS BEYOND...." she pressed her paws tightly over her ears, trying to block out the eardrum blasting noise.

Dream Sequence end....

"To the tunnels beyond..." Sparkpaw repeats sleepily stretching her paws out in her nest. It had been a little over a week since she'd been made an apprentice. Surrounding her was Violetpaw, Stripepaw, Smokepaw, and Mousepaw. Dawnpaw had moved into the Medicine Den long ago, taking her soft feather nest with her. The younger cats' snuffles and snores were quiet as they slept.

The sun wasn't fully up yet, faint pink rays rising up into the sky. Faintly, Sparkpaw felt a flicker of annoyance. She hadn't wanted to wake up earlier then she already had to, which was dawn. Sighing, she hauled herself out of her nest and out into the cool air of the camp.

There wasn't much activity going on outside. The two cats sitting night vigil, Bearfur and Honeybee were still standing rigid in their spots along the camp perimeter. Vultureclaw was sitting underneath the High Rock, organizing the dawn patrol.

Featherflight was already up, the old tom dragging bundles of mouse bile over to the Elders Den for the apprentices to use. Sparkpaw hoped her mentor Arrowheart had something more interesting in mind then just taking care of the Elders. Not that it isn't an important job, I'd just rather not be doing it.

"Good morning Sparkpaw." A voice greeted. Sparkpaw swiveled her head to the left to see where it came from.

Arrowheart was padding towards her, pads crunching on the frost bitten ground. The drop in temperature was coming early compared to normal, the river already starting to freeze over. Patchfur had commented that MagicClan often starved during what he called the River Freeze. Not wishing starvation on any cat, Sparkpaw hopes that isn't the case.

"Hey Arrowheart! So what're we doing today?" She asked him. While Goldenclaw still wasn't talking to her all that much, Arrowheart was starting to warm up to her. Nightrose had told her one night that Arrowheart was warming up to her, pleasing Sparkpaw.

Arrowheart gestures to Vultureclaw who had now gathered Littlebird and Brackenfoot. "I was thinking we'd join the Dawn Patrol. Then we can go do some battle training after a quick bite to eat." Clary nodded, that seemed like a good idea.

"Alright, lead the way." The

pair made their way over to Vultureclaw. Ever since learning Vultureclaw is a murderer, Sparkpaw has been extra cautious towards him. She never wants to be caught off guard by the massive deputy.

"Mind if we join the dawn patrol?" Arrowheart asked the deputy politely.

Vultureclaw eyes her mentor with an annoyed look, assessing him. Sparkpaw figures the deputy didn't like Arrowheart all that much, though she has no idea why. Maybe he suspects Arrowheart knows something...

The deputy gave a jerky nod. "Yes. Get going, those borders aren't going to patrol themselves." Arrowheart murmurs his agreement, heading over to join Littlebird and Brackenfoot. Sparkpaw trotted along at his heels. Today was off to a good enough start.

******Time Skip******

They were marking the last border before heading back. The moorlands of WolfClan stretched before them now with its soft peat and heather, the smell of rabbit heavy in the air. Sparkpaw took a deep inhale of air, the scents of her dream still heavy on her tongue. She remembered with deep clarity everything she saw before.

"To the tunnels beyond..." she repeated again, the words heavy on her tongue.

"What're ya saying?" Brackenfoot's drawl sounds from nearby. The young warrior was busy spraying one of the trees next to her.

"Er....nothing. Just hungry. The rabbit scent is waking up my stomach." She responded.

Littlebird was sniffing the border, her face troubled. "The WolfClan cats are still missing." She said with a sigh. "Blossomstar won't like this."

Arrowheart murmurs his agreement from where he stood next to a sparkling gray rock. It was granite, it's speckled coloring giving off a peculiar look compared to the sandy shale rocks clustered around it.

"At least FangClan's scent isn't here anymore. Cricketstar must've retracted their false claim on the land." Littlebird dipped her head in agreement.

"I suppose that's the best silver lining we have, let's hope WolfClan returns soon." The white she-cat said.

"How will they know to return? Will StarClan send them dreams?" Sparkpaw asked Arrowheart as they made their way back to camp. Her tone was low; a gentle whisper in his ear, or rather as close to his ear as she could get. Arrowheart is much taller then her, Sparkpaw always had to angle her head up to meet his gaze.

Her mentor's ears twitched. "I can't say for certain Sparkpaw. StarClan works in mysterious ways." He told her honestly.

"But what do you think?" She pressed him for more. Arrowheart thought his words over before responding, his paws scuffing the dirt. His long legs were toned and strong. It showed in the way he leapt over tussocks of grass and how he could attack a swooping bird mid flight.

"What I think is that StarClan wants there to be five clans in the forest. I don't know how, but I'm sure WolfClan will come home soon enough." He continues to stride for, Sparkpaw moving nimbly beside him. She had to move pretty quick to keep up with him, lest he leave her behind.

"Arrowheart, I had a dream last night." She murmured quietly.

"What kind of dream?" He asked.

Littlebird and Brackenfoot were moving ahead of them, their paw steps a steady thrumming on the earth. With the sun rising in the sky, the frost on the ground was beginning to thaw. The cold chill had lessened slightly, allowing some of the humidity of the summer to return. Clary reveled in the slight warmth, knowing it wouldn't last much longer.

She pondered how she'd put up with the Leaf-Bare chill. I won't have a cozy Twoleg Nest to return to...will I freeze out here? Sparkpaw told herself it couldn't be that difficult, if the other HunterClan cats could do it, so could she. Carefully, Sparkpaw explained her dream to Arrowheart, keeping anyone else from hearing her.

"That's interesting. So you think WolfClan fled into this tunnel and if we go through it we'll find them?" He asked.

"Yea, I think so." She murmured.

"Alright, we'll tell Blossomstar after we're done training for the day." Sparkpaw agrees, and with that the two headed back to camp alongside Littlebird and Brackenfoot.

******Time Skip/Arrowheart's POV******

Having shared a grouse with Goldenclaw, his stomach felt satisfied as he led his apprentice to the Sandy Hollow. Arrowheart had decided last night that he'd work on the fiery apprentice's battle moves today. Sparkpaw already knew the basic attack crouch, so he decided now is the time to broaden her knowledge in fighting skills. Who knows what we might have to face soon, what with Frostfang on the loose and a murderer right under our noses.

The sand was damp in the training grounds today, the frost melting into it. Drips of cold water splashed from the trees overhead. A few of them landed on his nose, making him sneeze. The dappled rays of weak sunlight fell on to Sparkpaw's pelt as he faces her. It made her look akin to an odd brand of fire. Arrowheart wished Sparkpaw could provide the warmth that a fire could, as his ears felt frozen with the cold chill.

"Today we're going to work on your battle skills. I've seen your attack crouch, but I haven't seen much else. So I want you to attack me so I can see where you're at." He told her.

"Okay. I won't be taking it easy on you." She told him as seriously as she could manage.

Arrowheart held back a laugh. "I'd hope you wouldn't. Now get on with it."

Sparkpaw wasted no time, lunging at him with a yowl. Arrowheart ducked down, letting the she-cat soar over his head instead of making contact. His apprentice landed on the stretch of ground behind him, kicking up dust as she skidded. She regained her balance faster then he'd expected, her green eyes shining.

Wanting to see how she'd manage under pressure, Arrowheart swung at her a well aimed strike across her chest. Sparkpaw narrowly avoided the hit, her agility all that kept Arrowheart's well placed move from landing. The she-cat retaliated, jabbing her paw at his leg. The move was likely an attempt to knock him over.

Arrowheart merely lifted his paw up to avoid the hit. He then applied the same jab at her forepaws, but instead of going for center mass he simply went with a downward strike she couldn't avoid. The hit sent Sparkpaw stumbling backwards off balance.

Pressing his advantage, Arrowheart slammed his paws onto her shoulders. The heavy hit sent her sprawling to the floor. With just as quick procession he pinned her to the sandy floor, the damp gritty sand mixing into his apprentice's ginger fur. Sparkpaw struggled in vain to get free of his hold. Several minutes later, Sparkpaw conceded defeat. Arrowheart gingerly stepped off her, allowing the smaller cat to shake the grit out of her fur.

"That wasn't bad, though your movements are sloppy and somewhat misplaced." He told Sparkpaw. His apprentice flopped onto the sand, panting for air.

"Not bad, " She retorted, "you had me completely pinned down. How am I ever supposed to beat you when you're so much bigger then me?" She asked him.

Arrowheart chuffed, fixing his apprentice with a stern blue eyed gaze. "Size has nothing to do with it. Sure, it helps me pin a cat down when I use my body weight, but everything comes with its advantages and disadvantages."

"Oh yea, like what?" She snapped, her temper flaring.

"Being bigger often means I can get tripped up easier. It also means I'm a bit slower in my reaction time. You remember how you were just barely able to avoid my paw swipe earlier?" He asked. Sparkpaw nodded, the fiery cat remembering the near miss.

"So what you're telling me is I have a speed advantage and you have a size advantage." She mewed.

"I suppose that's one way of looking at it. But the moral is this: when it comes to fighting, it doesn't matter what advantages or disadvantages you have, what matters is that you the drive and the cunning to win. As long as you have that, well nothing else really matters...though it certainly does help if you can apply your advantages to a fight." Arrowheart meowed.

Sparkpaw rose back up onto her paws, her ginger fur fluffing up against the chill. "Alright, so let's try again." Arrowheart agrees, and the two square off several more times before heading back to camp.

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