Chapter Thirteen - Compliments

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I watched in horror as Bloodpaw and Hawkpaw mauled on each other, leaping at each other and tearing at their pelts as if they were mortal enemies. Mothpaw and Deathpaw took it slightly easier on each other, not hitting as hard.

I was more than glad to be with Mudclaw, aiming at a low branch. He was making me practice jumping for a bit, then after the others were done tearing each other apart, I'd get to try to beat one of them. It took quite a bit to get used to being on my hind legs, but every time I stumbled, Mudclaw would claw me on the shoulder lightly, so I learned quick.

Mudclaw didn't say who I was fighting, but just my luck, it would probably be Bloodpaw.

I leaped and leaped, swinging my short legs at the low hanging branch. All I could get were the dead twigs that stuck off of the tree like quills.

I felt hot with embarrassment as I jumped and missed the thick branch everytime, making me feel small and weak. I felt like everyone was watching me, snickering and whispering about how tiny and pathetic I was.

One day, I vowed inwardly, mark my words, BloodClan, I'll be the strongest that ever lived!

"Alright, you're just making a fool of yourself now." Mudclaw muttered, pushing me backwards. "Mothpaw, you'll be Icepaw's opponent. Practice basic fighting moves like these," My mentor ordered. His voice was rough and serious. Too serious, as if we were going into a deadly battle we had to win.

I stood up in a rush and waited for further instructions.

Mudclaw and Tess circled each other with unsheathed claws and bared teeth. Tess was a bit more proper, her teeth less stained and her fur not as knotted and thick. Mudclaw, on the other paw, was scarred with matted, brown fur and sharp, stained teeth.

He needed to clean himself, which I made note to tell him the next time I could.

I watched the two warriors circle each other and then Mudclaw pounced, landing in the spot Tess once was. Tess slid behind him and sliced the back of his legs with two neat cuts. Mudclaw flinched only just enough to notice, then twisted around just in time to pin her down.

"Now once you're here, you aim for the neck and you've won." Mudclaw finished, facing the apprentices. He got up and fluffed out his thick fur.

Thornclaw pitched in, his voice low and his ears twitching and scanning for noises. "Icepaw, Mothpaw, you two first. Hawkpaw, Bloodpaw, Deathpaw, you three will be fighting against your mentors while Mudclaw and I watch over these two."

Mudclaw dipped his head in agreement and so did the other mentors.

I swallowed nervously. Mothpaw may be quiet, but she was tough and probably not the kind of she-cat to give mercy. A shiver rippled down my spine as a chilly breeze swept through the training center.

Mothpaw unsheathed her claws and lowered herself into a crouch, her haunches high and eyes wide. I did the same and tried to keep myself lower than her, aiming for the look, speed, and stealth of a snake.

I unsheathed my claws and curled my lip in fake-hatred. We circled each other twice, until Mothpaw lost her patience and dove for me. I froze and forgot what Tess had done and stood there like a sitting duck.

Mothpaw landed on me squarely and we rolled in the muddy, blood-stained ground. Mothpaw just looked over at her mentor as she pinned me.

"Teach her a lesson, make her wish she had moved quicker!" Thornclaw called. My heart pounded fiercely as I glanced over at my mentor to see he was actually excited to see it. Leaning forward, eyes narrowed, Mudclaw waited.

Mothpaw looked down at me and from her amber gaze, she gave me an apologetic look as she raised her golden paw.

Slash after slash, she hit me over and over in the face. I kicked at her stomach but she barely budged. My eyes stung as blood dripped into them. My face throbbed and I pictured my white face now painted crimson red.

I began to cry out in pain as Mothpaw's claws sliced already open wounds.

"Enough." Thornclaw meowed, standing just beside us. He was a blur now, as well as everything else my eyes could catch. Rolling over, I started to blink the blood out of my eyes until I began to see straight again.

From where I was rolled onto my side, I whipped my face with my paw. I could feel the wounds moving and I flinched in pain. Blood was smeared on my paw when I looked at it.

Mudclaw shoved his narrow, scarred muzzle into my face, snarling, "Try again, but this time I want you to actually fight back."


We stayed out there until the sun was already down. We were told the darkness was our friend since it kept us hidden from our enemies. The patrol only went back because we were starting to tire and not fight as well.

I had lost twice to Mothpaw, though I did injure her a few times. I felt satisfied even though Mudclaw didn't seem to be at all. "For your first time fighting, you didn't do all that bad," Deathpaw praised.

Did my ears hear my correctly? Did Deathpaw actually praise me? I wondered, giving him a confused look. My heart skipped a beat.

He didn't wait for a reply, he just hurried off to stand by his mentor, Sootfur. He had a small limp as we headed back - as well did I since Mothpaw got me good with the whole slicing-your-ankles thing.

Tawnypelt gave me a nod of pride today, Deathpaw gave me a compliment, and now I have battle scars! Today was a good day, indeed!

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