Chapter Twenty - Misty Newcomers

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The next morning was foggy and dark, grey clouds hovering above. The air was warm and misty as I left the apprentices den. Ice stood in the center of the clearing, ordering patrols.

I only watched - not listening to Ice - as the warriors left for patrol. Rowansting left with Longtail, Birchleaf, and Snake. Rainwhisker took Webfoot and Tornear. Onewhisker lead Shadepelt, Feathertail and Oakfur out of camp soon after, Mousefur's patrol with Cloudtail, Ocean, and Loudbelly on their heels. Brick suggested she took a patrol to check Twolegplace for trouble, taking Dustpelt and Brackenfur with her.

He then instructed Tess, Thornclaw, and Boulder to take their apprentices out. Then he called together a patrol filled with Sootfur and Mistyfoot to take their apprentices out. Ice flicked his tail to Mudclaw and Goldenflower. Coldpaw, Hawkpaw, and I followed close behind.

We padded through the dim forest, mist swirling around our paws. I felt like I was in the real Dark Forest, but I knew I wasn't. My fur stood on end as we padded silently through the territory.

Just as we came to the battle training clearing - which was surprisingly empty - a few crows launched themselves into the air, calling out loudly. I didn't see it coming, so I ended up jumping a tail-length into the air, the fog following and disappearing quickly.

Hawkpaw and Bloodpaw purred aloud and murmured things I didn't catch. I growled at them with my lips curled in a warning snarl.

"We'll begin by you four racing to the half bridge by the lake. It's easy to see, though you've never been there. Race there and back. Last one gets a lesson." Ice ordered.

We took our places and Ice raised his tail in front of us. I unsheathed my claws and ducked down to get ready to run. "Go!" Ice yowled and all four of us dashed away. Hawkpaw and Bloodpaw took the lead and I used all my strength to get by them.

We raced beside a stream that lead down to the lake and I decided to take a short cut. I could already see the half bridge and I knew I was going to be in third if I didn't take a short cut.

The swirling water made my heart lurch at the thought of being taken away, but I leaped anyway. I soared through the air and landed on the slippery shore, my hind legs in the water. Taking a deep breath, I tore away, taking the lead.

I forced myself to think there was something chasing me and made it there first. I skidded to a halt at the half bridge, the water calm with fog on the surface. Gulping, I realized I wasn't alone.

One tall silver and white tom with scars all over him, another dark brown with menacing amber eyes, and the last one was dark grey with white legs. The tall one was lapping at water as I had halted, while the dark grey one was keeping watch. The brown tom stopped lapping when I had come into view, I assumed.

I gulped and for once, I wished Hawkpaw, Bloodpaw, and Coldpaw would hurry up and get to the half bridge. "Are you a BloodClan kit running away?" The brown tom asked. I looked for humour in his gaze but he was serious. I unsheathed my claws and hissed at him, backing away. All three of them came to his side.

"I'm a BloodClan apprentice! I'll rip you to shreds if you come any closer!" I snarled loudly. The three rogues exchanged puzzled glances and then the brown one spoke again. "Take us to your leader." He meowed, unafraid. Though they didn't seem to be startled by me, the three of them didn't move any closer as I had asked.

Just then, Hawkpaw and Bloodpaw tore into the clearing in a fury of claws and fur. "I'm the winner!" Bloodpaw shouted. "No, I am!" Hawkpaw sneered, climbing over Bloodpaw's body to get to the half bridge first.

Fur matted and fluffed up, Hawkpaw started to rub in Bloodpaw's face that he had won, but then realized I was here, as well as others.

Coldpaw came in trotting, then slowed down until he collapsed on the half bridge. Breathing heavily and fast, he laid there. "Who are these three?" Bloodpaw growled.

"Get off our territory or we'll kill you three!" Hawkpaw yowled. The three still didn't look frightened.

"I am Deadly. This is Claw-" The dark brown tom meowed, gesturing to the tall silver and white tom, then turned to the dark grey tom, "-and this is Willie."

"Where is the leader of BloodClan? With this Clan taking what's left of the prey, we can't get anything to eat other than crowfood..." The dark grey tom - Willie - mewed. Bloodpaw and Hawkpaw snarled at them, not answering them.

"Bloodpaw, Hawkpaw! Back down. We should get Ice to get Poison." I hissed. The two didn't listen. Turning to the rogues, I turned around to leave, "Fine. Come with me, I'll take you to see our leader and he'll make the decision," They followed close on my heels with Coldpaw on one side and Bloodpaw and Hawkpaw at the rear.

I felt like a real warrior, leading a patrol through the territory. But my glory faded as I realized that I wouldn't be a warrior for a while. Or never, if I ended up going into BloodClan's Hunger Games.
Ice had taken the lead and left me to the side. We made our way to the camp where Poison was laying upon his den. Tail flicking and eyes closed he didn't acknowledge we were even here.

"Poison," Ice meowed as Mudclaw and Goldenflower pushed the rogues forward. The remaining cats in the camp emerged from their dens at the sudden tension in Ice's tone. Poison opened his eyes and set his daggers on the newcomers without moving.

He stood up gracefully, his tail snaking around his paws as he sat back down. "Who are they?" Poison growled. "We have enough mouths to feed."

Deadly stepped forward while the other two waited on either side of the brown tom. "I am Deadly, and these are my friends, Claw and Willie. We have been struggling to feed ourselves since you cats get all the prey, and we were wondering if we could join you." His voice was even and not one of the three looked scared.

"We only let cats in if we know for sure they're worth our time." Poison snarled with an evil look in his green gaze. "Blackfoot, Brambleclaw, Lostface, come here." The three guards stalked their way to the bottom of Poison's den.

The three newcomers exchanged puzzled glances and unsheathed their claws. Poison already looked pleased, and I knew it was about to go down.

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