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   Chapter 22 WolfClan is Finally Here! (Malec)

City of Ice and Fire By Grace Estellar Characters: 26170

Updated: 2019-10-28 00:34

****Goldenclaw's POV****

It is Vultureclaw that spots the golden tabby tom first. Amber eyes blaze with recognition and anger as Goldenclaw slides down the slope into the hollow. Once he hits the bottom, Goldenclaw has to crane his head up to see the deputy. He keeps his fur lying flat as he does in an attempt to appear calm.

Ashwhisker and Frondleap take this moment to reappear, their pelts spiking as they notice him. Goldenclaw glares at the two toms menacingly. He knew that Vultureclaw was a piece of crow food, but he hadn't thought some of his clan mates were working for the mad deputy. Just how far does Vultureclaw's treachery run in HunterClan? He supposed that he'll find out soon enough, if his place comes into fruition.

"Goldenclaw! What are you doing here!?" Ashwhisker hisses.

"How long have you been listening in?" Frondleap asks, casting a wary glance up at Vultureclaw.

The deputy sits up on the fallen log, his tail thumping behind him. Goldenclaw rolls his eyes at their questioning, finding most it to be relevant. The two toms circle around to stand in front of Vultureclaw, their claws unsheathed in preparation. Not wanting to have a fight on his paws, Goldenclaw takes this opportunity to start talking.

"I've been here for long enough. Though, there's something I don't understand." He mews.

"That's not an answer!" Ashwhisker exclaims. "Vultureclaw, can I tear him apart." Beside the gray warrior, Frondleap remains oddly silent.

Vultureclaw's head tilts to the side in thought. "Humor me. What is it that you don't understand?"

Goldenclaw gulps, forcing down the fear in his chest that makes his heart pound. What he was about to do was attempt to trick possibly the most dangerous cat in HunterClan. He had no idea if his acting skills would be sufficient in lying to Vultureclaw, but he had to try.

"How come I wasn't invited?" He meows with an air of arrogance, tilting his golden head to the side in what he hoped looked like annoyed confusion.

Vultureclaw's eyes narrowed and Frondleap and Ashwhisker regard him with surprise. Goldenclaw can't say he blames them. I would be suspicious of me too if I were them....but I need this to work. He knew he would have to do some things he would never want to do, not on his life.

And so he grapples at a connection to the madness as he gives out a curt response.

"But of course. I'm Frostfang's son after all. I should be involved in your plans."

A look of understanding flicks across Ashwhisker's face, the gray warrior accepting his words rather quickly. Frondleap didn't say a word and his expression did not give Goldenclaw the slightest hint as to what the warrior was thinking. Eventually though, Frondleap did give a small nod. Vultureclaw still looks suspicious, though Goldenclaw cannot next entirely sure what is going on in the deputy's mind.

Overhead, a bird caws, the sound reminding him of the scratchy voice of Sour Cream. Everything else remains silent. Goldenclaw watches Vultureclaw with bated breath, waiting for a response that he hoped wouldn't be along the lines of orders to maul him or worse yet: brutally tear off his limbs before leaving his carcass to rot. This hollow was not where the golden tabby tom wants to die.

"He's not wrong about that...maybe we should let him join in on our plans." Frondleap says, albeit timidly.

Vultureclaw shares a look with Ashwhisker. "And what do you think of this....?" The dark tabby waves a paw in Goldenclaw's general direction. The golden tabby doesn't know if he should feel offended or not that the other toms were talking right over him, arrogantly figuring out what to do with him.

Ashwhisker shrugged. "If you ask me, I don't know if I'd believe him off his word."

"So your suggestion is..." Goldenclaw murmurs, hoping that whatever Vultureclaw said would not be too distasteful.

Vultureclaw smirks. The expression on the deputy's face is a crooked, evil sort of smile that Goldenclaw decidedly does not like. He watches with bated breath as Vultureclaw contemplates something long and hard.

"If you wish to join us, then you must be tested." Vultureclaw says decisively. "And I know just how to test you." A dark gleam was in those amber eyes. Goldenclaw barely suppresses a shudder.

****Arrowheart's POV****

His heart hammers long after they cross the final ThunderPath in the long row. He can feel his own chest heaving with the effort of so much exertion. Patchfur was right next to him, the bicolored tom taking in his own several lungfuls of air.

"That...was...horrible..." Simon pants out, his ears still plastered tightly to his forehead in fear.

Arrowheart finds himself agreeing with the vampire. He could not recall having ever ran as fast in his life. Silverthorn and Strikeclaw had been kind enough to lead them to the least busy stretch of road for crossing, but that had not stopped four monsters from almost trampling them. Each and every time, he had found himself praying to StarClan they made it through. Luckily, they had, but now they were all just trying to catch their breaths, and also recover a steady heart rate.

"Tell me about it." Sparkpaw said.

The she-cat's voice is muffled from her ginger muzzle being pressed into the earth. Sparkpaw had collapsed onto the ground the second they made it across the asphalt back onto dry grass. Prickly blades of grass brush up against the apprentice's belly fur and sides. Arrowheart knows the sprawled out position his apprentice is in is in no way comfortable, though he doubts she'll be getting up anytime soon.

Strikeclaw lets out a small grumble. "If you thought that was bad, just wait until we bring the rest of WolfClan across on our way back."

Silverthorn nods in agreement. "The first time was bad enough. And it'll be even more dangerous now that some of our Clan mates are sick."

"Are you sure that's the only way back? Maybe we can find something else?" Simon mews.

Strikeclaw shakes his head. "We wondered that too. But if there was a way, we didn't find one." The brown tom frowns. "I think that's why Rookstar picked this place for us to live. It's secluded and hardly anyone would be able to cross all the paths of get to us so we'd be safe."

Silverthorn nods with a sad smile. "I'm sure. Regardless, he didn't account for food. WolfClan can't survive here for much longer. We need to go home."

"And that's why we're here." Patchfur mews. "Right Arrowheart?"

"Yes. We'll get Rookstar and the others so we can all go back to the forest together." Arrowheart murmurs. The Shadowhunter hopes everything goes well, his dream from last night still bouncing around in his head, flickering with bright warning lights.

"That sounds good and all...but where is WolfClan anyways? I thought you said they'd be right beyond all the ThunderPaths." Sparkpaw mews. The apprentice had lifted her head up from the grass so she could be heard clearly. Simon helped her get back up onto her paws, giving the flame colored cat a lick behind one ear once she was standing beside him.

Strikeclaw rolls his eyes and Arrowheart has to resist doing the same. "Only an absolute moron would make their camp right next to an obnoxiously loud, smelly ThunderPath. What are you, a kittypet?"

The question was meant to be rhetorical, but Arrowheart could still see the vampire stiffen. Strikeclaw has no idea how right he was. That pegs Simon right on the head. Inwardly, he wills Simon not to say a word. Arrowheart felt bad that he hadn't told Silverthorn about Simon's true origins, but it's not exactly as though it mattered.

Nor did she ask, he reminds himself. If Silverthorn had, the Shadowhunter knows that he would've told her. Then again, that is Simon's business, not mine. He did not have the right to give away informa

o persistent. Sparkpaw notices and goes over to help the vampire. The two cats make quick work of rubbing the garlic all over the tom's skin. By the time they're finished a few minutes later, Simon reeks of garlic and does not have the slightest hint of death scent all over him. Arrowheart finds that makes him want to avoid the chattering vampire even more, but at least Simon won't be under the other cats' suspicion anymore.

"Arrowheart, shouldn't Simon have a Clan cat name so we don't have to worry about anyone asking questions?" Sparkpaw asks.

"Hmmm, I don't know. What do you think Patchfur?" He draws his boyfriend's attention as quietly as possible. Arrowheart whispers this to the warlock quietly, not wanting to draw the attention from Grayfur, who is busy trying to rouse Rookstar. To the Shadowhunter's relief, Rookstar is beginning to stir.

"I don't think Shuckle can have a clan cat name. He doesn't really hold himself like one." Patchfur murmurs.

"Shuckle isn't my name." Simon protests.

Arrowheart rolls his eyes at the amused chuckle Patchfur lets out. He's pretty certain his boyfriend knows Simon's name by now and that he just chooses not to use it. He has to force his own flanks from heaving with laughter.

It's so freaking hilarious!

"I suppose you have a point." Arrowheart concedes. "Simon, just try not to speak. Let Sparkpaw do the talking, you do both share the same thought span it would seem." He says jokingly.

Sparkpaw giggles. "No we don't."

Simon shrugs. "Yea but...oh alright fine." The tabby sulks.

Arrowheart pays one more second of attention to the pair before he's swinging his head around to look at the sick cats once more. Bellflower is leaned over another patient who takes the form of a small cream colored she-cat.

"Creampaw I need you to lap some of these up little one." Bellflower speaks gently.

Weakly, the young apprentice lifts her head to lap up the offered herbs. Arrowheart can't recognize all of them, though he does spot the small, round black seeds that are without a doubt poppy seeds.

She must be trying to ease her pain. He looks with a pang at the cream colored cat's thin frame and sunken eyes. The cat looks so unhealthy that Arrowheart thinks it's a miracle she's still alive. Would she even make the journey back alive? Luckily, the other sick cats look slightly more healthy.

"Arrowheart, Patchfur. Rookstar will speak to you now." Grayfur's voice sounds.

The deputy stands next to Rookstar, the old leader having risen from his nest and onto his paws. The silvery scar down the tom's flank is a small black shadow on the leader's pelt. Arrowheart wonders who the leader got it from. WolfClan was known for having strange traditions, one of which being that the leader receives a scar of honor somewhere on his pelt from a StarClan cat.

I wonder if HunterClan has a tradition like that. I'll have to see if Blossomstar will tell me.

HunterClan kept a very tight lid on their most sacred traditions. It made his clan different from the rest. Sometimes this was a food thing, but other times....

Other times it only hurts us.

The Circle and all it stood for flashes into his head. How much longer would Blossomstar keep their return a secret? His thoughts were interrupted by Rookstar's raspy voice.

"Arrowheart, I've heard you've come to bring WolfClan home." He mews.

Arrowheart nods, straightening himself up to meet the leader's gaze. "Yes. That's why we're here."

"Are you all ready to come home?" Patchfur asks hopefully.

"That's great news. Yes. WolfClan needs to return home now more than ever." Rookstar grunts, his amber eyes flashing with pain as he crumples to the ground.

"Rookstar!" Grayfur exclaims.

The deputy does his best to lower the leader safely to the ground. Arrowheart and Patchfur keep back, not knowing if they should provide help. Luckily, they don't need to and Rookstar manages to lift his head up tiredly.

"I'm sorry. The pain herbs have made it hard to stand. WolfClan will come home with you tomorrow morning. Grayfur, let the rest of the clan know." Rookstar murmurs. "For now, let me rest." The leader's head flops back down onto his nest, his eyes slipping closed.

****Goldenclaw's POV****

His paw steps are light as he follows behind Starkpelt. Goldenclaw knows that Vultureclaw wants him to get rid of the traitor to prove his loyalty. A small part of him would not mind doing this, seeing as if not for Starkpelt Frostfang wouldn't have the Mortal Moss. Yet, he does understand that even if Starkpelt is a traitor, death is not a fitting punishment for him.

And so, he has another plan.

The grass swishes around Goldenclaw as he follows the older warrior. Starkpelt had been left to his own devices for the day to hunt wherever he chose, per Vultureclaw's demand so that Goldenclaw had optimal time to off him and make it look as much of an accident as possible. He knows that the deputy wants him to kill Starkpelt, but Goldenclaw has another plan, a better plan that won't make him sick to his stomach and will also garner Vultureclaw's trust.

"Starkpelt." He calls out the tom's name loud and clear. The time for hiding is over.

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