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This is a Warriors fanfiction by Eevee. Enjoy~  

Vengeance book title

~Subscribe~

Bloody18 02:22, November 10, 2013 (UTC)

Prologue

The slender silver she-cat yowled in pain as a spasm shook her. I can't be kitting! Not now! She crouched and moaned in pain, her ears flat to her head from the rain that pounded down on them. She knelt over and called out weakly, "Bracken!"

Her mate, a large bracken-colored tom, rushed to her side and licked her ear. "You're... kitting!?" His fur bristled. "Not now! We have to move! To avoid them! Can't you go any farther, Cinder?" He crouched beside her, anxiety in his large brown eyes. "Please?"

The she-cat blinked and growled as yet another spasm took her. "I won't - can't - go on until these dang kits are born." She glanced around fearfully, hoping the dogs wouldn't catch up in her moment of weakness, when she couldn't run.

"It'll be over soon. Don't worry." Bracken stiffened in horror as he heard the snarl of the creatures pursuing them. He took Cinder's scruff in his jaws and dragged her over to a small spot between a Twoleg trash bin and a Twoleg nest, making sure the dogs couldn't reach them. He'd barely gotten them into the spot when the dogs ran up to them and scratched eagerly at the two cats, whimpering excitedly.

Cinder cried out. Bracken hissed and clawed at the smaller brown dog's nose. It flinched and yelped as blood leaked out of the wound. At the same time, Cinder wailed as a kit fell onto the concrete. Moments later, after Bracken had clawed nearly all the fur off of the brown dog's face, another kit slid out. Bracken slashed at the bigger black dog, and another wail came from Cinder as the final kit was born.

Bracken looked back as a shrill wail erupted from the last kit. It had a blue-grey pelt. Bracken lashed his tail angrily as he slashed at the other dog. He raked its muzzle and near its eyes, and soon both dogs were running away, tails between their legs.

Bracken stood, defiant. He looked back at Cinder and touched his nose to her forehead. "You okay?" he whispered hoarsely, as if he'd been yelling for hours. He stared at his three kits; One was a jet-black she-cat, who wasn't breathing - she was a still-born. The other was a ginger tom, like Bracken. Its breathing was shallow and fast. Seconds later, its breathing stopped. The last was a blue-grey tom, wailing like every other newborn kit. But there was something about this kit that Bracken didn't like.

Cinder nodded as she watched her living kit scornfully. She pushed it away, leaving it blind and deaf, wailing in agony and hunger. It crawled toward her again, and she shoved it again.

"Give it milk. It won't shut up until you do." Bracken pointed out, already hating his son.

Cinder, reluctantly, let the kit nurse, sweeping her feathery tail across the floor. "What should we name it?"

"Name it? As far as I'm concerned, it's not my kit." Bracken mewed coldly, his eyes darting toward the tiny kit. He narrowed his eyes.

"What do we do with it? Let it die of hunger?" Cinder's eyes sparkled maliciously, as if she wanted the kit's death to be slow and painful. "It looks like the mythical cursed cat that my grandfather had always talked about... It might explain why his littermates are dead!"

Bracken snarled, "Then leave it to die! It can be swallowed by those dogs for all I care!" His fur fluffed up, and his eyes held a cold fire as he stared at the kit in malice.

It curled up as a raindrop the length of its tail dropped onto its head. It whimpered.

Bracken took the dead kits in his jaws and buried them in a patch of dirt a tail-length away from the hiding spot.

Cinder got to her paws. "We should go."

Bracken nodded, and the mates set off, leaving the blue-grey kit wailing as he realized the warmth had gone.

The kit wailed loudly, and then went quiet. I'm alone... he thought, scared and afraid.

Meanwhile, a brown tom trotted through the alleyway, his ears perked for the wailing he'd heard. "Sounds like a kit..." he mumbled. He scented the air, and smelled the kit, even through the pounding rain. He padded up to a hiding spot; A small blue-grey kit lay wailing, his parents not with him. "Who would do this!?" the brown tom exclaimed, and picked up the kit by the scruff.

The kit stopped crying as he felt himself lifted off of the ground. Is it another cat?

"Don't worry, I'll take care of you..." The brown tom thought a moment. "Blue."

Chapter 1 - I'll impress you.

Blue gazed up at Bramble, his bright blue eyes shining curiously. "What happened next?" he asked eagerly.

Bramble purred, "Littlestar was near dead. He was weak and on his last life, but that didn't keep him from fighting." He seemed distant, as if he were right in the battle, remembering every claw-swipe, every dodge, every little detail down to the first drop of blood spilled the day of the battle. "Shadowheart, the deputy of BrackenClan, suddenly turned on Littlestar, wanting the leadership for himself. He attacked Littlestar viciously, swiping at him.

"Littlestar was wise, for a new leader. He dodged every claw, not getting even an ounce of blood taken from him. Shadowheart got really furious, and he leaped straight at Littlestar. But Littlestar had a trick up his fur." Bramble paused for effect. Blue shuffled forward, his eyes wide.

"Littlestar was small and swift. He slid behind Shadowheart and, before you could say 'vole,' was on his deputy's back, snarling and slashing at his face and throat. Shadowheart couldn't kick him off, and fell due to blood loss. Littlestar stepped away and shook. He declared the battle over." Bramble sneezed, and then continued, "and guess who was made deputy?"

Blue mewed, "Who?"

"Me!" Bramble meowed, proud of himself.

"Why'd you leave the Clan?" the four-moon-old kit asked curiously.

Bramble chucked. "Let's save that for another story, shall we?"

Another voice called from the other side of the den, "Oh, you're just keeping him from another story!" It was Bramble's mate, Petal. She was a pale cream tabby with emerald green eyes.

Blue scampered over to her. "Can you tell me why?" he chirped. His fluffy kit fur glowed dimly in the dawn light that filled the den. He stared up at Petal innocently.

Petal chuckled. "Sorry, little guy. I can't tell you."

"Why nooooooot?" Blue mewled stubbornly.

"I don't know!" Petal replied. "I wasn't in the Clan. I've been a loner all my life." Her eyes shimmered in amusement, and she wrapped her tail around Blue and licked his forehead.

Blue responded by pushing away. "Petal, I'm not a kit!"

Petal purred. She licked Blue's forehead again, smoothing down a stray tuft of fur. "Bramble, would you go hunting? The fresh-kill pile's running low." She flicked her tail toward a small pile of mice and voles. She looked back at the brown tom, who had started to pad away. "And try to catch a rabbit or a squirrel!" she called. Bramble nodded before sliding out of the den.

Blue gazed up at Petal. He mewed, "Can I go now?"

"Not out of the den."

"Can't you take me hunting?"

"Well... You're a bit too young -" Petal began uncertainly, and then sighed. "Okay, okay." she meowed. "I'll take you hunting." She got to her paws and started toward the mouth of the den. Blue trotted after her, his ears perked excitedly. The only time he'd been outside was when he was watching Bramble hunt. A vixen had come with its cub and tried to steal Blue. Bramble and Petal had, of course, driven it off, but the fox had given Blue a thin scar running down one side. Petal always flinched looking at the scar, and she always kept him from going out of the den. Overprotective, if you ask me. Blue thought, a bit annoyed.

But I finally get to go outside! Have to watch for burs though... Petal would throw a fit if one gets caught in my fur! Blue sheathed and unsheathed his small, sharp claws as he padded beside Petal. His blue eyes glittered with curiosity, excitement, and anxiety. What if a fox shows up?

He shook the thought away.

As he and Petal emerged from the den, he gazed around in wonder. It was different from two moons ago, when that dumb fox had shown up and ruined everything. The grass went up to his belly, and he bounded alongside Petal to keep up. The cream she-cat's pace quickened, and she glanced around, looking afraid. Blue felt a spark of annoyance. He could take care of himself! And if a fox showed up, he'd teach it a lesson, too.

Bramble was a tail-length away, a plump, grey mouse in his jaws. His eyes flashed when he saw them, and he trotted casually over to them. He dropped the mouse at his paws and meowed cheerfully, "Hey, Petal!" He glanced down at Blue. "Did he convince you to come out?" the brown tom teased, looking at Petal again.

"No, he just wanted to watch you hunt-" Petal was cut off by Blue, who yowled with impatience and annoyance.

"I said I wanted to hunt with him, not watch him hunt!" The small-blue grey kit stamped his foot on the dusty ground.

Bramble's ear perked. "Is that it?" He chuckled and mewed, "Ha, he can hunt with me, Petal. Relax. Let him have fun!"

Blue glared at Petal, then bounded to his father's side. "Yeah!"

"What about..." Petal swallowed and whispered, "...what if a fox finds you both?"

"I'd protect him, Petal." Bramble grunted, shifting his paws impatiently. "Look, we have to go now. You can come, if you're not scared."

Petal glanced around fearfully and stepped back. "I'll stay. I've got... er.... Herbs to collect! See you later!" She was already running, calling the last words over her shoulder. In a flash, her cream fur was out of sight, her tail disappearing through the undergrowth.

Bramble shook his head, muttering under his breath. Blue caught some of the words, hearing words like  'coward' and 'mouse-brain.' Bramble looked at Blue. "You'll learn how to hunt now!"

Blue rolled his eyes and sighed. Duh!

"First, you have to learn the hunting crouch."

Finally! Getting to the hunting!

Bramble was whispering now. "What you do is you try to focus your weight on your hind legs. Try it." Bramble flicked his tail toward a small mouse, signaling for Blue to pounce on it.

Blue attempted the crouch, slamming his tail to the ground, keeping his chest low, and his ears pricked. Barely a foot away from it, without sneaking up on the prey, he lunged forward, claws outstretched. He landed with a thud and looked up, lifting a paw in curiosity. The mouse had escaped, a skittering noise faint as it ran, leaving a trail of leaves disturbed by the tiny piece of prey. Blue growled in frustration, already tired of the lesson.

Bramble shook his broad head. "No, Blue," he scolded, "you must stalk the prey and keep your weight in your hind legs!" He huffed, and continued. "Now to explain. Rabbits hear your pawsteps, and mice feel the pawsteps through the ground. That's why you keep your weight-"

"- On my hind legs, blah blah blah." Blue grumbled. "Look, can we get to the hunting now!?" His already fluffy kit fur fluffed out even more in impatience.

"You need to learn how to hunt to be able to hunt, Blue!" Bramble growled, obviously trying to keep his cool. His fur bristled slightly, and the large tom twisted around to smooth it down with his tongue. He snapped his head back up when he heard a rustling in the leaves a couple tail-lengths away. Quickly he crouched, stalked forward carefully, and then pounced on a large piece of prey, a shrill squeal coming from the large vole he'd leaped on. He sat up, casually padded back over to where Blue stood, dumbfounded and surprised, and dropped the fresh-kill at the kit's small paws. "See?"

Blue sighed and looked away. "A vole. What about it?"

"You saw the way I stalked it, the way I leaped on it and bit its neck?" Bramble puffed, then he eyed Blue with annoyed, cold amber eyes. "You're hopeless! You'll be eating from kittypets' food bowls!"

Blue defended himself. "I can learn! I won't eat kittypet food!"

Bramble growled, "Then you have to learn to hunt right, or you'll become a spoiled kittypet!" He got to his paws and padded away, angered at his kit.

Blue started after him, but stopped after a fresh wave of fury. He spat after him, "I'll become the world's strongest, fiercest, toughest cat! You hear me!?" Blue yowled the last words. His claws dug into the ground, and a tear of desperation and anger ran from his eye. "I promise I'll be the strongest to impress you and Petal!"

Chapter 2 - Promise?

Blue sat, sulking, near the riverbank, his ears flat to his head. He had been sitting there for hours, and the sun was going down. Another tear glistened at the corner of his eye. He blinked it away. "I can prove it." he whispered. He got to his paws, determined to learn how to hunt. He pricked his ears as a leaf rustled near his paw. The young tom scrambled away, his eyes concentrating on the oak leaf that had fallen in front of him. He crouched, his chest low, but he kept most of his weight on his hind legs.

Holding his breath, Blue started forward, his tail barely hovering over the ground. He lowered his head, then pounced on the leaf, giving out a mrrow of triumph. But it wasn't real prey. No. It was only a leaf, and leaves didn't have grey or brown fur or paws or tails. Blue stepped away from the leaf and sniffed the air, his eyes darting from side to side. He caught a mouth-watering scent, that smelled of fur and flesh. He recognized the scent from earlier; It was a mouse.

Its light brown fur stuck out against a bare patch of grass, not covered by leaves. Its nose twitched, its whiskers flicked, and it squeaked from time to time. Blue was in the hunter's crouch, trying to remember everything he'd learned. Before he knew it, he was a foot away from the mouse, even with his blue-grey fur sticking out against the dense undergrowth. Blue saw his chance as the mouse froze. He sprang off the ground with his hind paws, his claws extended. The mouse flew out from under the small paws. Blue hit the ground and lashed out with a paw, making the mouse trip. It was sprawled out on the ground, regaining its balance, when Blue struck. He nipped at the rodent, then dug his teeth into its neck. It squealed, then lay limp.

"I bet they'll be proud now!" Blue meowed happily around his first prey. He gazed around curiously, his ears pricked for any sign of movement in the trees. A rustling filled his senses. He pinpointed the sound of the rustling, and it came from a bramble bush. Funny place for prey to be. He thought, watching the bush. He flung his mouse aside, then got ready to pounce. He stepped forward lightly and cautiously. Until he caught a glimpse of red fur.

Blue froze. "A-a f-f-fox!?" he gasped. He snatched his mouse up and began to run. When he didn't hear the steady rumbling of paws behind him, the kit stopped and turned around, puzzled. Instead of giving chase, the fox was merely watching him. Blue dug his claws into the ground and panted, his mouse at his paws. "H-hello?" he called hesitantly.

The fox stepped out of the bushes, its fluffy red tail wagging. Blue could look at it more closely now. He noted its brown eyes, the black paws, and the white-tipped tail. The muzzle was grey with age, and the dull brown eyes looked tired. The fox itself was skinny.

With a gasp, Blue remembered the fox. It was the vixen who had attacked him two moons ago! "No! You're not getting my fresh-kill! Get away!" he challenged boldly. His fur bristled and

The vixen, instead, took a step forward, as if begging. Its eyes now looked pleading, as well as tired. It whimpered.

Blue eyed the fox distrustfully. He swiped at it and hissed, "Go away!"

The vixen's eyes showed fading patience, but she still insisted. She stumbled toward Blue, whining in hunger.

Blue suddenly thought of how selfish he was being. He glanced at the mouse, then at the fox, then back at the mouse. Surely, a mouse couldn't be enough to fill a hungry fox? But still, it would help it. Blue pushed the fresh-kill toward the fox, jerking his paw back. The vixen gave him a grateful glance, then started to eat the mouse, eating it slowly. Blue was a bit sad to see his prey get eaten by a fox that had tried to kill him. But he felt a touch of pride helping the starving creature. As the fox finished the mouse, she stumbled to her paws and padded toward Blue. The kit got ready to defend himself. Instead of trying to bite him, the fox nuzzled him, licking his forehead.

Blue stood, frozen. He absently watched as the fox padded slowly into the bushes. Blue stood, frozen, in shock. The fox hadn't tried to attack him. Instead, it had just nuzzled him, not baring its teeth, not growling, not snapping. It had just nuzzled him, like a mother to her kit. A voice snapped him out of his trance.

"Hey! Blue!" Blue blinked and saw the brown tabby fur of his father, Bramble.

Bramble looked afraid. "Did a fox steal you?"

Shaking his head, Blue meowed, "No. I gave the vixen my first mouse. I caught a mouse and gave it to the starving fox."

"Erm... What?" Bramble looked confused. Of course he would.

"Helped the vixen." Blue repeated. "I gave her the mouse I'd caught."

Bramble was furious, but he didn't speak. Instead, he turned and padded back through the forest, beckoning Blue to follow. Blue trotted after him, sniffing the air every now and then. He gazed around, seeing a long, hairless pink tail slither through the leaves. The kit thought that it must be a mouse. He stared at Bramble hopefully, but the brown tom didn't even turn to look at him.

Blue hung his head. Bramble was mad at him. But for helping someone in need? Bramble could go and chase his own tail for all Blue cared. Blue had helped a starving fox. Yes, a fox, but still, it was starving. And Petal had said to help anyone in need. So why was he in trouble?

Soon, Bramble came to a stop. Blue halted beside his father, his eyes darting from side to side. "Is something wrong?" he mewed curiously.

Bramble looked at him. "Nothing. I just smell something. Keep quiet, and follow me." The tom's voice was hushed now, and Blue wondered why.

"Why?" he whispered.

Bramble opened his jaws, then closed them and shook his head. He tasted the air again, ears perked, fur bristling. He stepped tensely and quietly over a fallen tree limb. Blue padded around it, his ears perked like Bramble's. A faint scent caught Blue's attention. It smelled like a cat, but stranger than usual cat scent. It had a faint trace of blood, so faint it could barely be picked up.

Before Blue could say anything, Bramble snatched him up in his jaws and raced back to the den. Bramble skidded to a stop in front of the den and dropped Blue at his paws, gasping and panting. Blue gazed up at him and mewed, "What's wrong?"

Bramble caught his breath and choked out, "If you ever smell that scent again, run away from it. Don't go toward it."

"Why-"

"Please." Bramble sighed. "Don't ask." He turned and padded back into the den, his eyes glowing dimly in the faint light. Blue scampered after him.

Petal was lying in her nest, her back to them. Her paws flicked every now and then, and her tail swept over the ground. One of her ears flicked, the one with a nick in it, signalling that she had heard the two toms. She rolled over, her eyes shining. "Bramble?" she meowed softly.

"What is it, Petal?" Bramble responded gently, crouching by his mate.

Petal looked overjoyed. "Bramble, I'm going to have kits!" Her voice was still in its soft tone.

Bramble gave a squeak, sounding like a kit that had just discovered a leaf, chasing it around innocently. He nuzzled Petal, purring loudly. Petal licked his cheek, her eyes shining.

Blue bounded up to them. "Does that mean I get a brother? Or a sister?" he mewled curiously. Lately, the kitten had been noticing that Petal looked a bit more plump than usual. She had always stayed behind in hunting, and she wasn't as agile and athletic as she used to be.

Petal stared at Blue. "Yes, Blue. You get a brother or sister." Her voice had a touch of amusement in it.

Blue rubbed up against his mother, purring. "And you'll always be with us?" he asked innocently. His wide blue eyes sparkled.

Bramble curled up beside Petal, wrapping his tail around little Blue. "We will always  be with you, no matter what."

"Promise?" Blue mewed. He wanted to make sure that they would be with him, forever and ever and ever.

"Promise." Petal purred. "Get to your little den now, Blue."

Blue skittered off to the small chamber that served as his den. It was still connected to Bramble's and Petal's den, with a short, thin tunnel dug by a fox.

Promise? Blue's question rang in his ears as he settled down to sleep. Then Petal's reply came. Promise.

Chapter 3 - Dead

Blue blinked his eyes open against the bright morning light that filled his den. He sneezed as a feather from his nest was blown onto his nose. He shook his head, then got to his paws and shook his fur. He stretched his jaws into a wide yawn.

Despite the normal-feeling morning, something felt different. It was quiet, and the air smelled different. It smelled faintly of something familiar, but Blue couldn't put his paw on it. As for the noise: Nothing. No shuffling in the nests a couple of tail-lengths away from him, no soft purrs, no gentle mews, and no quiet patter of paws as Petal or Bramble came to check on him. He looked through the tunnel. A brown lump of fur lay against the wall, curled up in its nest. A cream-colored pile of fur lay closer to the tunnel, a pawstep away from its nest.

Blue bounded over to Petal, who lay still. He mewed, "Good morning, Petal!"

No response came. She didn't even look at him. Her emerald eyes remained open, but they were glazed over with a look of terror and regret. Why? Blue wondered. He pressed a paw to the cream she-cat's flank. He instantly drew back. Petal's pelt was cold.

So cold.

Blue nudged her, wondering if she was just playing a game. "Petal?" he asked softly. No reply. Blue flattened his ears. Some game! he thought. He bounded over to Bramble, whose back was to him, and his clawtips touched the wall. "Braaaaaamble!" Blue trilled, leaping to the brown tom's side.

Bramble's amber eyes were narrowed, and a look of rage and sorrow showed in them. His lips were curved into a snarl, and his claws were unsheathed. A thin red slash marked his throat. His tail and legs were limp.

Blue stepped over Bramble's forelegs to see the slash better. He moved the larger tom's legs away and gasped when he saw a liquid oozing out of the slash. He'd seen the liquid once before. It was when Petal had caught a vole, and her claws went deep into its throat, and the red stuff had eased out of the clawmark. Then the vole had died.

The liquid was blood. Blue mewed, "Bramble?" His eyes grew misty with tears. Again, he prodded the older cat with his tiny forepaw, and his fur was just like Petal's. Cold.

He scampered back over to Petal, his eyes hopeful that she was still alive. Her eyes are open! She must be awake! She has to be. Blue skidded to a halt beside Petal's head. "Petal? Petal, please answer!"

Again, no response. Blue knew that they would never ignore him. That must mean they were... dead.

"What about my brothers and sisters?" Blue whispered, his voice shaking. "What about the promise?" he added, almost inaudible. He shook his head in frustration and sorrow. Whoever did this to you, Blue thought, rage overcoming him like fire, they will pay!

He got to his paws, claws unsheathed. His blue-grey kit fur was ruffled, and his ears were flat to his head. Tears streamed down his face, and he blinked rapidly. Pawsteps sounded at the den's entrance.

Blue whipped around to see a canine-like figure blocking the only way out. The red fur of the canine was fluffed out, and its bushy tail wagged slightly. Its ears were rounded at the tips, and a small nick was present in the left. The paws of the red-furred canine were larger than Blue's own paws, complete with sharp black claws that couldn't be sheathed or unsheathed. For a moment, cat and canine, stared at each other. Then the canine spoke.

"Hi!"

Blue flinched. "How do I know what you're saying?"

The canine cocked its head curiously. "Well, either I'm speaking cat, which I'm not, or you can speak fox."

The blue-grey kit blinked disbelievingly. "Wha- how would I know how to speak fox!?" He couldn't make the fox's accusations seem true. "I've never learned how to speak fox, anyway! My parents were cats, if you haven't noticed." He flicked his tail at the two lifeless bodies behind him.

The fox recoiled. "Oh. . .w-well, s-sorry-"

"You killed them, didn't you. . .?"

"What!? No!" The fox snarled. Its blue eyes softened. "Sorry about the outburst. I don't like being accused." It shivered a bit, and Blue wondered if it was from a breeze or something. The fox then said, "Name's Teryx. What's yours?"

Blue mewed, "My name is Blue."

Teryx chuckled. "I could've figured that out." His gaze drifted over the kit's blue fur, and then he pointed his nose at the dead cats behind them. "Who were they?"

"Bramble. . . a-and Petal. . ." Blue choked out, blinking tears out of his eyes. He lowered his head so Teryx wouldn't see the tears.

"...They were your parents? You look awfully different from them," Teryx commented. Then his nose twitched. "Oh, those two! I know them." Blue looked up in alarm. "I've seen them before, hunting together. My mom, Russet, had tried to steal a little blue-grey kit from them. . .that was you, wasn't it?" Blue nodded. "Oooooh."

Blue's memory caught up with him. He suddenly mewed, "The vixen I saw earlier - your mother - was starving, so I shared my prey with her. Then she strode up to me and touched her nose to my head." Blue gazed at the ceiling of the den before snapping his attention back to Teryx. "Then she left."

Teryx stiffened. "You mean. . ." He shook his head, ears flapping. "My mom gave you the ability to speak fox." His icy-blue eyes bore into Blue, who stood, dumbfounded. "The Star Spirits told her to bless you with the language of fox." He wagged his bushy red tail, as if the sentence had explained everything.

"Um..." Blue looked at his paws. "What are the 'Star Spirits?'"

"Oh, well, of course you wouldn't know." Teryx sighed, then continued eying Blue intently. "The Star Spirits are the ancestors of currently-living foxes. They watch over us, protecting us, and sometimes, Dad speaks with them by dreaming." The small red fox glanced up. "He says that he can't tell me what he does in the dreams, because I wouldn't understand it."

Sounds kind of like me. Blue thought, listening intently as Teryx went on about the Star Spirits. The fox's voice drifted off, and his gaze drew away. Then he shook his head and asked, "So... since your parents are dead, want to come live with me and my family?"

Blue blinked. "A cat? Live with foxes?" His eyes widened. It would be pretty cool to live with foxes for a while. Probably the first cat to do so. He nodded quickly. "I'll do it!"

"Well... first I haf'ta ask my mom and dad." Teryx whined. He pointed with his nose at Petal and Bramble. "They'll come at sunhigh and help bury them, most likely." The red-furred fox turned away, then asked, "You'll stay, right?"

"Of course! I can't live alone, and I don't know any fighting techniques." The blue-grey kit watched as Teryx padded out of the den. His silhouette disappeared, leaving only the dawn light to fill the den. Blue blinked a few times. Can I trust him?

He shook his head. Of course he could! Even if Teryx was a fox, he seemed trustworthy. Blue looked back at his parents, remembering what Teryx had said about them.

They were your parents? You look awfully different from them...

Blue looked at his fur. Blue-grey with slightly darker patches. Looking at the other two, seeing Petal's cream-colored fur, and Bramble's brown tabby pelt, he did have to admit he looked way different from them. Was he even closely related to them? Blue stamped his paw impatiently. Yes, you are! He silently scolded himself. He'd known them since he had opened his eyes. That must mean he was their kit.

...Right?

Tired of thinking, Blue curled up next to Petal. He'd sleep until the foxes came, and then he'd go with them. Suddenly filling with rage, he dug his claws into the floor. "I'll avenge you." he hissed softly. He closed his eyes, falling asleep almost instantly.

Chapter 4 - The Tribe

Blue woke up as a paw jabbed his flank. "Get up." He heard a voice say. With a faint mew of protest, he opened his eyes to see a russet-furred fox.

Teryx bounded up to the small kitten. "See? I told you they'd come, I told you!" His bushy tail wagged excitedly. "And guess what? Guess, guess, guess, guess, gue-"

The larger fox growled, "Teryx, shush. He'll guess when you stop yapping." His tone had a hint of amusement in it.

"What is it," Blue yawned. He scratched his ear with his hind paw.

Teryx butted him with his head. "We're brothers now! My dad is adopting you!" His eyes shone. "It'll be fun having a brother!"

Blue leaped to his paws. "Really!?" He'd never had any siblings. As the larger fox dragged Bramble and Petal's bodies outside to bury, he and Teryx tossed a moss ball back and forth. The two pricked their ears as the fox padded back in, his paws caked with dirt.

"Let's go." he growled roughly. He led the two away from the den.

Looking back, Blue wondered what would happen to the old den. He'd lived in it his whole life, and now he was leaving it behind like it was just a piece of crow-food. He looked back ahead. He whispered, "Hey, Teryx? Do you think-"

Teryx whispered back, "We shouldn't talk here. Dad'll snap at us. He scolds us whenever we talk while we're traveling. Oh, and Dad's name is Icaron." Teryx looked up at Icaron, eyes shining. "He's really popular back home. I mean, he's the best warrior ever!"

Blue blinked. "Warrior?"

Nodding, the fox kit bounced a little. "Yeah! Our leader is even considering making him second-lead. It's awesome!"

Icaron growled, "Quiet." His ears perked and his nose twitched. He began walking again. "We're almost there."

After the undergrowth opened up, Blue gasped at what he saw. A large clearing, with dens scattered everywhere. The scent of milk came from one den; the strong smell of herbs from another. Foxes of different colors were either sharing prey, sleeping, or talking with each other. All of them were different sizes; some were small, some large. All of them turned to look at Icaron, whose sudden appearance seemed to startle them. Teryx didn't seem bothered. He only scampered off to play with other kits. But Blue, on the other paw, felt strange in this place.

My fur must stand out... and the fact that I'm a cat. Blue thought uncomfortably. A fox kit called out, "Mama, why's that one blue-pelted?" Its mother scowled, glared at Blue, and shoved her two kits into the milk-scented den. Teryx looked downcast at his friends being pushed away, and he trotted back over to Blue. "They think you're weird."

Blue flicked his ears. "'Course they would." He looked at his paws. "One, I'm a cat, and two, I have blue fur. I look ridiculous compared to those red-furred jerks."

Icaron nodded at him. "Follow me." He pointed at Teryx with his nose. "You, Teryx, go to the nursery. Wisp must be worried." He watched as the fox kit scrambled off to the nursery, slipping inside it. Icaron gestured to Blue for him to follow as the fox padded toward a larger den. The den was between two large slabs of stone covered in moss. A small puddle of water was outside of it, the sun's rays shining down on it. Blue blinked curiously, and followed Icaron into the den.

Inside, it was a short walk through a dim tunnel. Then, when it opened up, light shone through a yawning hole in the roof. A miniature waterfall crashed down into a pool sluggishly, splashing tiny droplets everywhere. A pale russet pelt was crouched at the edge of the pool, its eyes closed. Was it concentrating or sleeping? Its ears were pricked, and its head slightly lifted, so it wasn't asleep.

Icaron called, "Nyrial? May I talk to you for a moment?"

The leader was called Nyrial. As the leader turned, its eyes still closed, Blue got a feeling of nervousness. What if this fox didn't accept him? What if it sent him away and left him to starve? What if it killed him and ate his dead carcass?

Nyrial didn't open her eyes. She growled, "Icaron? What is it that you need?"

"A kitten has requested to join our pack."

"A kitten?" Nyrial's ears flicked questioningly.

Icaron nodded. "Yes, a kitten. He has a blue-grey pelt and ice-blue eyes."

Blue looked at him thoughtfully. "Can't she o-" Icaron cuffed his ear sharply with a paw.

Nyrial said gently, "Icaron, don't. He doesn't know. It's like a young one to be curious." She turned to face Blue. For the first time, Blue noticed that her eyes had very faint scars over them. "You see, little kit, I'm blind. Not from these scars, though." She gently ran a paw over her eyelid. "I was born blind. I became second-lead, then leader despite that. It was because I had an ability no other fox had." She paused, then said, "I can see using my ears."

Blue gaped at that. "How is that possible!?" he exclaimed.

Nyrial smiled. "It was a gift I've had since I was a kit. Seems the Star Spirits lay their mercy on me. I mean, a blind fox can't hunt. With my gift, I can do anything a sighted fox can." She pricked her ears, her nose twitching. "I sense you're formerly a loner, right?"

Icaron nodded before he could speak.

Nyrial twitched her ears again. "And you've met Redemption, correct?"

Blue's eyes widened. "Who's Redemption?"

"Oh, yes, I knew you wouldn't know him. You'll know later, when you are a year and a half moons old." The leader shook her head, then pointed at Icaron with her nose. "So, you're wondering if he can join?"

Icaron nodded. "Y-yes." He blinked nervously. "So, can he? Teryx seems to like him, and-"

Nyrial nodded. "Of course he can." She twitched her ears again. "He will make a good warrior." She turned back to the pool, switching her concentration back on the steady water. She lowered her head to it, to where her wet black nose was touching the very surface by a whisker-width. She went completely still, only the gradual rising and falling of her flanks indicating any movement. She barked, "Announce his arrival and joining."

Icaron nodded at Blue, and the two headed back out of the den, through the dim tunnel, out into the bright sunhigh light. Icaron growled, "Stay," motioning for Blue to sit in front one of the slabs of stone making up the tunnel to the leader's den. Icaron scrambled up the mossy stone and howled, "Tribe of Icy Winter, gather!"

Foxes already in the clearing looked up, and the foxes in dens trotted out into the clearing. None of them noticed the tiny, blue-grey lump of fur huddled in front of the stone.

Icaron called, "Today, we have a new member of the Tribe. He is a stranger to our ways, but treat him with utmost respect. I would like to welcome Blue to our Tribe."

The foxes all looked at Blue curiously. Teryx shoved them aside scrambling toward him. "Yes! I knew you'd be accepted!"

Clearing his throat, Icaron went on. "He will surely be an outstanding warrior. But he's too young to be apprenticed. So, until his seventh moon, his caretaker will be my mate, Asnyris." When he said her name, he flicked his bushy tail at a young silver vixen. "You will take care of him, I presume?"

Asnyris smiled warmly. "Of course I will."

The second-lead standing on the rock blinked gratefully. "Thank you." He lifted his face to the sky and howled, "You are dismissed!" He leaped off of the rock and padded to stand in front of Asnyris. The two began to converse quietly.

Muttering rose from the Tribe members as they broke off into groups, casting glances at him every few moments. None objected, though.

Teryx's eyes shone. "Can you believe it, Blue? They accept you... sorta."

Blue nodded. "I didn't think it would happen. But they'll probably end up ignoring me either way. At least, until I'm an apprentice!" His ears pricked as two fox kits trotted over to them.

The larger one, a grey-brown male with blue eyes, jeered, "Oh, look, Rune! It's the blue-pelted freak!"

Rune, a smaller silvery vixen with green eyes, sighed. "Yeah, I see him, Ares." She flattened her ears. "I swear, you can't go thirty heartbeats without insulting someone!"

Ares grunted. "Hey, he's not like us. In other words, he. Is. Different." He thrust his muzzle into Blue's face. Blue drew away, but Ares just pinned him against a tree, his teeth bared. "Now, listen, runt. I make the rules around here. You do not, and will not, break them. "Understand?"

Blue hissed and unsheathed his claws. Instinctively, he lashed out at Ares, slashing the fox kit's nose. With a yelp, Ares leaped back, blood running from the thin slash in his wet black nose. He grinned as a silver vixen emerged from the nursery. He wailed, "Mama, Mama! Th-this freak scratched me!"

The vixen padded calmly over to them. She inspected the little clawmark, then sighed. "Ares, it's only a little scratch. It'll heal." She swept her tail over his head. "Go see Vulcan. He'll heal it - if it hurts so bad." she added.

Teryx chuckled as Ares gaped, eyes wide. He whispered to Blue, "He tried to get you in trouble, and it didn't work."

Blue nodded in agreement. "Yep." he whispered back.

The vixen nodded, "Go on." She watched Ares pad slowly and reluctantly toward the strong-scented den. Then she looked at Teryx, Rune, and Blue. "You three, what caused his scratch?"

"Well, Astoria, his nose got scratched by a bramble thorn." Rune said quickly. Her eyes shifted back and forth.

Astoria laughed. "I thought so. Ares makes a big deal out of everything." She blinked, then turned to face Blue. "So, you're the one that Asnyris is taking care of." She studied him, looking at him from eartips to paws. "You're smaller than I expected. You'll still make a good warrior, but you'll have to work harder to learn our battle moves and hunting strategies."

"I know." Blue mewed, looking up at the sky.

Teryx flicked his tail. "Astoria, I'll explain everything for him."

Astoria laughed again. "B-but you're not a warrior," she chuckled, falling onto her back from giggling. "You guys amuse me!" Bushy tail waving, she got to her paws, laughter glittering in her eyes. "Rune, would you like to see Ares before we go back to the nursery?" When the kit shook her head, Astoria looked at Blue. "You - Blue, isn't it? - will be shown around the camp tomorrow by one of our apprentices. His name is Cassiel. You'll know him when you see him." She blinked.

Blue mewed, "What does he look like?"

"Slender, pale grey, blue eyes, tiny paws, long tail, short fur, scar along the left side of his face." Astoria answered without hesitation. She turned away, facing the nursery. "C'mon, you three. We don't have all day~!" She flaunted off to the nursery, ears perked.

Rune followed, giggling, and Teryx rolled his eyes. "Vixens." he sighed as he followed them. Blue padded after him, wondering what would happen next.

~*~*~*~

Blue stood on a windswept moor, his eyes narrowed to slits against the wind. The wind carried dust and sand toward him, and he began turning his face away from the specks. He couldn't.

Pawsteps behind him caught his attention. Instinctively, he wanted to whirl around and confront the one behind him. But he couldn't. He was frozen, paralyzed, not able to move other than breathing. He tensely awaited claws piercing his skin. It didn't happen.

Instead, an eerie, icy voice whispered into his ear, its rank breath strong. Despite the voice being so close to his ear, Blue couldn't hear one word it said. The thing disappeared, leaving Blue alone on the moor, the grit still striking his face and eyes.

He choked out, "Someone help me!" He recoiled when he couldn't hear even his own voice. He felt as if he were deaf, like a kit. A little, helpless kit.

What is that noise? Blue realized he could hear, but something invisible was making the sounds. It sounded like screams. Screams of fury. Wails of pain. Cries of agony. And one yowl, it stood out, it was clearer than the others. It was a mingled cry, filled with pain, agony, fury, hatred, betrayal, sadness... Every cry, every wail merged into one. Blue cringed, trying to block out the yowl as it got more shrill and abundant, not stopping until it fused into one high-pitched, long scream. Blue gaped, trying to yell for help.

The cry never came.

More coming soon!

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