Fiercestar always insisted on being on more border patrols than Flowerfang thought was advisable, but the arrogant leader wouldn't listen. Now he lead a small group towards the Nightclan border. By his side were his apprentice, Glowpaw, his trusted littermate, Smallnose, and Mousetooth.
They were near the end of their route when Glowpaw stopped, sniffing the air with interest.
"What is it, Glowpaw?" Mousetooth, the apprentice's father asked.
Fiercestar's own fur began rising as well; he and Mousetooth glared in the direction that Glowpaw was staring. Fiercestar trusted his apprentice to know what he was talking about by now. He was almost ready for his warrior name.
"What do you smell here, Volepaw?" the dutiful mentor asked.
"Uh..." Volepaw trailed off as he diligently sniffed the scent.
Scratchfoot tried to be patient as Volepaw took his time with the scent. Finally, he perked up his head, bright with excitement.
"Cats!" he chirped, looking extremely pleased with himself.
For a moment, Scratchfoot thought he caught a glimmer of amusement from the rest of his patrol, but it disappeared almost immediately. It was replaced by a sudden sheen of steely resolve as something seemed to catch Shadelight and Darkfur's eyes.
Now Scratchfoot turned his attention to the enemy patrol, keeping his fur flat despite the ruffled fur he could see on the other patrol. One of their cats paced up to the very edge of the border; it was their leader, Fiercestar.
"Good evening, Nightclan." the Streamclan leader snarled.
"Good evening, Fiercestar." Scratchfoot murmured, keeping a growl out of his voice with difficulty.
Scratchfoot had heard about this leader, that every word he spoke felt like an invitation to fight. Keeping things neutral was going to be an especial challenge.
"What do you want so close to the border?" Growled another cat in the Streamclan patrol, a bright white tom.
"We're on border patrol." Shadelight answered, voice dripping sarcasm as she rolled her eyes.
The white tom hissed at her, but Fiercestar lifted his tail to silence him.
"Peace, Glowpaw." he growled, voice lowering into almost a purr, "Nightclan don't want to fight, their leader has turned them all soft now that she lolls around in their nursery all day."
Dead silence rained for half a second during which the Nightclan cats' fur shot up in a display of their instant fury. Finally, Scratchfoot padded towards the border.
"What, exactly, are you implying?" he gritted out, the words rumbling with his snarl.
"Obviously," hissed a higher pitched mew from the left, "we're implying that you're all wimps. Specifically because your pathetic queen leader is a lazy, good for nothing..."
Pandemonium struck the border.
Shadelight launched herself at the sneering she-cat while Fiercestar attacked Scratchfoot who was all to happy the meet the smug leader with his claws.
And then there was agony...
Suddenly Scratchfoot realized that Fiercestar's attacks were becoming feeble. The warrior broke away from the fight, looking down in horror at what he had down. A rip of fur and flesh seeped out blood from the leader's side and belly.
"What have you done..?" hissed a soft she-cat's voice.
It was the one who had set off Shadelight. She didn't look took good now, with a scratch over her eyes and blood trickling from a hip wound.
"Retreat!" the she-cat yowled, breaking up the last of the fight.
Immediately the Streamclan cats raced to their leader's side. He seemed to be barely breathing. They worked to pick him up.
"Nightclan will regret this." the she-cat spat before helping her clan mates to drag the bleeding cat away.
Guilt and exhaustion almost immediately began eating away at Scratchfoot as he turned to head back to camp. Foxstar needed to know what had happened. They needed to start preparing for Streamclan's revenge.
Meanwhile, the Streamclan cats were able to get Fiercestar back to camp and Speckear's remedies.
She did the best that she could, coating Fiercestar's numerous wounds with cobweb, pressing herbs to them. But it was no good.
Finally, she turned away from the leader's labored breathing to attend to the wounds of the rest of the patrol.
They were undergoing a thorough lashing with Flowerfang's tongue. She was furious with their behavior and choices, knowing full well that it was Streamclan that had caused this whole mess.
"He's not dead yet!" Flowerfang snapped at her son, shutting him up.
"It won't be long..." came the sorrowful voice of their medicine cat as she attended to Glowpaw's scratches.
That brought a heavy silence upon the camp who watched the still body of their leader.
And the clan waited, watching the leader's body intently.
It seemed like an eternity later before Fiercestar suddenly took a shuddering breath, and started breathing normally. The clan let out the breath that they had all been holding.
"Fiercestar has lost his first life." Speckear spoke for every cat to hear, "Praise Starclan for giving him nine lives to serve his clan."
The silence that came before during Fiercestar's death now reigned again as every cat fervently thanked Starclan for this great gift.
However, when he had awoken, Fiercestar insisted that Flowerfang come to see him.
"Yes, Fiercestar," the Streamclan deputy asked when she had rushed to his side.
Pink had replaced the red wounds that had brought an end to the leader's first life.
"Nightclan cannot get away with what they have done." the ferocious leader snarled.
"We must prepare for war!"