Chapter Fifteen - Finding Trouble

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We had gotten back by the time the sun was making it's way up to it's highest point. The sky was blue and few clouds whisked across the sky. A calm breeze whispered among the camp as I waited for Mudclaw to come back from his patrol. My tail tip twitched impatiently; it seemed to have a mind of its own.

My gaze traveled over to the medicine den. The medicine cats were a lot happier now that they got out of that cramped and dark den. I wasn't aloud to help them or really even talk to them, and I wasn't sure why.

"Icepaw." Mudclaw's voice came from the entrance to the camp, "Lets go. I'll teach you how to hunt first then we'll meet up with the rest of the apprentices for battle training." I nodded and hopped out of the camp with my mentor on my heels.

"Where are we going, Mudclaw? Is it somewhere I've never been?" I asked, hopping around. Mudclaw's eyes flashed with annoyance and he stomped his foot down on my tail. I yelped in surprise and stopped bouncing.

"No bouncing, Icepaw. This is serious." He growled. But... it's hunting! How is this serious? I flicked my ear and narrowed my eyes, ready to spit out a retort when he shoved me back with the same paw he trapped my tail with. I toppled over.

"If you're smart, you'll keep your mouth shut." Mudclaw snapped. Hot with embarrassment, I nodded and fell in behind him.

The brown tom was silent for a few heartbeats, but soon he began to explain his plans. "We'll head toward the pines and I'll show you the Main River and the Island Marshland," Mudclaw looked over his shoulder at me briefly, "We'll hunt on the way and check for rogues and foxes."

My heart thumped quick and my tail quivered in excitement. I'm finally going to train to hunt, and I'm going to see the territory! Maybe I'll even fight off a rogue!
***
Rain had started to fall by the time we made it to the Main River. We didn't search for prey on the way, we just kept going. But as we neared to the Main River, Mudclaw halted and instructed me to search for a trail that any prey had left. Gladly, I did as I was told.

"No one comes this far back often, so it'll be a bonus for you." Mudclaw called to me as I sniffed out the scent of a thrush. I heard birds are tricky to catch... I thought as I spotted the creature behind the bush. I grinned. It had it's back to me, not even noticing my presence.

I stalked towards it and before I could even get close, it fluttered away, calling out in fright.

Mudclaw padded over, his eyes filled with annoyance but he kept his anger to a minimum. "Your tail was too high, and your paws kept scraping the undergrowth. Try again with the next prey you can find." He grunted.

I nodded and fluffed out my fur, raising my head and opening my mouth to taste the air. The rain made it hard, but soon I found myself tracking down a mouse.

The small brown creature was munching on a seed under the shelter of a flower patch, just barely visible. If it weren't for its tail, I feared I would t have seen it at all. Mudclaw pushed my tail down just above the ground and dipped his head for me to go. Eyes narrowed to slits and claws unsheathed, I stalked forward until I was only a tail-length away.

I pounced onto the mouse and gave it the killing bite. Lifting the tiny creature up, I turned and gave my mentor a look of triumph. He bowed his head but didn't praise me. My heart sunk but I forced myself to look bold and careless. After all, he did just bow his head to me. If that's not good enough, then what is? I optimistically thought to myself.

A battle cry rose through the air and we whipped around. Crows cried out and flew away from the moor. "Something's wrong... Go back to camp, Icepaw, I'll be back." Mudclaw hissed, tearing away after the cry. I watched him bound away and leap over the Main River with one graceful leap. He bolted away toward the moor and I let a growl creep up in my throat.

I wish I could go fight! It sounds like a good battle is coming... I whimpered inwardly, dragging my tail as I headed back to the muddy, cramped camp. The mouse didn't even matter to me anymore.
***
I dropped my vole and mouse into the fresh-kill pile lightly and backed up as another patrol did the same. The fresh-kill pile was for sure growing larger every day.

I had caught the vole on my way back, being unsuccessful with a squirrel as well. "Great catch, Icepaw! First day and you bring two things back." Frostfur praised, her frail shape trotting happily over to me. "You should eat, you don't look so well." I suggested, tilting my head to the side.

"Oh, I'm fine. I'll eat later." She reassured, a raspy purr escaping her. I wanted to push her to eat, but I didn't bother since I knew how stubborn she was.

"Where's Mudclaw?" Sootfur asked me with Ice beside him.

I looked over at the two toms. "While he was teaching me how to hunt, we heard a battle cry from the moor and he took off. I was told to go back to camp while he checked it out." I explained with a shrug. The two toms exchanged nervous glances and hurried off with Mistyfoot, Shadepelt, and Minty on their heels.

"Scourge, Brick, Poison, Onewhisker, Hoot, and Russetfur all went out to the moor early this morning... I wonder what they found." Frostfur murmured to no one in particular.

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