Warriors into the wild, p.1
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       Warriors: Into the Wild, p.1
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         Part #1 of Warriors series by Erin Hunter
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Warriors: Into the Wild


  WARRIORS

  INTO THE WILD

  ERIN HUNTER

  For Billy—who left our Twoleg home to become a Warrior.

  We still miss him very much.

  And for Benjamin—his brother

  who is with him now in StarClan

  Special thanks to Kate Cary

  Contents

  Allegiances

  Maps

  Prologue

  A half-moon glowed on smooth granite boulders, turning them silver.

  Chapter 1

  It was very dark. Rusty could sense something was near.

  Chapter 2

  “Well?” hissed Bluestar, her face only a mouse-length from his…

  Chapter 3

  That morning, as Rusty slept off his night’s wanderings, the…

  Chapter 4

  Shocked yowls rose from the Clan cats and echoed through…

  Chapter 5

  “Hey, Firepaw, wake up!” Graypaw’s meow broke into Firepaw’s dream.

  Chapter 6

  Early-morning sunlight streamed down onto the forest floor as Firepaw…

  Chapter 7

  Firepaw retraced his steps and headed back toward the stream.

  Chapter 8

  Yellowfang growled in defiance at the approaching pawsteps, but Firepaw…

  Chapter 9

  “I’d go and see to Yellowfang, if I were you,”…

  Chapter 10

  By the following morning, a thin drizzle soaked the treetops…

  Chapter 11

  Firepaw returned with a chaffinch gripped firmly between his teeth.

  Chapter 12

  Firepaw peered over the brow of a bush-covered slope. Graypaw…

  Chapter 13

  Firepaw reached the edge of the ravine and looked down…

  Chapter 14

  The cold air chilled Firepaw’s bones as blackness wrapped itself…

  Chapter 15

  Bluestar stood and began to pad toward Mothermouth. Tigerclaw walked…

  Chapter 16

  They headed back the way they had come. The moon…

  Chapter 17

  Sunhigh came and went as the cats made their way…

  Chapter 18

  “Are you telling Firepaw how I protected Redtail?”

  Chapter 19

  Graypaw and Ravenpaw were still patching the hole when Firepaw…

  Chapter 20

  By the time Firepaw returned, the camp was starting to…

  Chapter 21

  “Yellowfang has killed Spottedleaf and taken my kits!” screeched Frostfur.

  Chapter 22

  Firepaw and Graypaw retraced their steps to ThunderClan territory. Both…

  Chapter 23

  Firepaw could tell there were several cats in the patrol,…

  Chapter 24

  Yellowfang turned and pushed her way into the bracken. Whitestorm…

  Chapter 25

  Buoyed up with relief at being home again, Firepaw and…

  About the Author

  Other Books by Erin Hunter

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  ALLEGIANCES

  THUNDERCLAN

  LEADER

  BLUESTAR—blue-gray she-cat, tinged with silver around her muzzle.

  DEPUTY

  REDTAIL—small tortoiseshell tom with a distinctive ginger tail. APPRENTICE, DUSTPAW

  MEDICINE CAT

  SPOTTEDLEAF—beautiful dark tortoiseshell she-cat with a distinctive dappled coat.

  WARRIORS

  (toms, and she-cats without kits)

  LIONHEART—magnificent golden tabby tom with thick fur like a lion’s mane. APPRENTICE, GRAYPAW

  TIGERCLAW—big dark brown tabby tom with unusually long front claws. APPRENTICE, RAVENPAW

  WHITESTORM—big white tom. APPRENTICE, SANDPAW

  DARKSTRIPE—sleek black-and-gray tabby tom.

  LONGTAIL—pale tabby tom with dark black stripes.

  RUNNINGWIND—swift tabby tom.

  WILLOWPELT—very pale gray she-cat with unusual blue eyes.

  MOUSEFUR—small dusky brown she-cat.

  APPRENTICES

  (more than six moons old, in training to become warriors)

  DUSTPAW—dark brown tabby tom.

  GRAYPAW—long-haired solid gray tom.

  RAVENPAW—small, skinny black tom with a tiny white dash on his chest, and white-tipped tail

  SANDPAW—pale ginger she-cat.

  FIREPAW—handsome ginger tom.

  QUEENS

  (she-cats expecting or nursing kits)

  FROSTFUR—beautiful white coat and blue eyes.

  BRINDLEFACE—pretty tabby.

  GOLDENFLOWER—pale ginger coat.

  SPECKLETAIL—pale tabby, and the oldest nursery queen.

  ELDERS

  (former warriors and queens, now retired)

  HALFTAIL—big dark brown tabby tom with part of his tail missing.

  SMALLEAR—gray tom with very small ears. The oldest tom in ThunderClan.

  PATCHPELT—small black-and-white tom.

  ONE-EYE—pale gray she-cat, the oldest cat in ThunderClan. Virtually blind and deaf.

  DAPPLETAIL—once-pretty tortoiseshell she-cat with a lovely dappled coat.

  SHADOWCLAN

  LEADER

  BROKENSTAR—long-haired dark brown tabby.

  DEPUTY

  BLACKFOOT—large white tom with huge jet-black paws.

  MEDICINE CAT

  RUNNINGNOSE—small gray-and-white tom.

  WARRIORS

  STUMPYTAIL—brown tabby tom. APPRENTICE, BROWNPAW BOULDER—silver tabby tom. APPRENTICE, WETPAW CLAWFACE—battle-scarred brown tom. APPRENTICE, LITTLEPAW NIGHTPELT—black tom.

  QUEENS

  DAWNCLOUD—small tabby. BRIGHTFLOWER—black-and-white she-cat.

  ELDERS

  ASHFUR—thin gray tom.

  WINDCLAN

  LEADER

  TALLSTAR—a black-and-white tom with a very long tail.

  RIVERCLAN

  LEADER

  CROOKEDSTAR—a huge light-colored tabby with a twisted jaw.

  DEPUTY

  OAKHEART—a reddish brown tom.

  CATS OUTSIDE CLANS

  YELLOWFANG—old dark gray she-cat with a broad, flattened face.

  SMUDGE—plump, friendly black-and-white kitten who lives in a house at the edge of the forest.

  BARLEY—black-and-white tom who lives on a farm close to the forest.

  MAPS

  PROLOGUE

  A half-moon glowed on smooth granite boulders, turning them silver. The silence was broken only by the ripple of water from the swift black river and the whisper of trees in the forest beyond.

  There was a stirring in the shadows, and from all around lithe dark shapes crept stealthily over the rocks. Unsheathed claws glinted in the moonlight. Wary eyes flashed like amber. And then, as if on a silent signal, the creatures leaped at each other, and suddenly the rocks were alive with wrestling, screeching cats.

  At the center of the frenzy of fur and claws, a massive dark tabby pinned a bracken-colored tom to the ground and drew up his head triumphantly. “Oakheart!” the tabby growled. “How dare you hunt in our territory? The Sunningrocks belong to ThunderClan!”

  “After tonight, Tigerclaw, this will be just another RiverClan hunting ground!” the bracken-colored tom spat back.

  A warning yowl came from the shore, shrill and anxious. “Look out! More RiverClan warriors are coming!”

  Tigerclaw turned to see sleek wet bodies sliding out of the water below the rocks. The drenched RiverClan warriors bounded silently up the shore and hurled themselves into battle without even stopping to shak
e the water from their fur.

  The dark tabby glared down at Oakheart. “You may swim like otters, but you and your warriors do not belong in this forest!” He drew back his lips and showed his teeth as the cat struggled beneath him.

  The desperate scream of a ThunderClan she-cat rose above the clamor. A wiry RiverClan tom had pinned the brown warrior flat on her belly. Now he lunged toward her neck with jaws still dripping from his swim across the river.

  Tigerclaw heard the cry and let go of Oakheart. With a mighty leap, he knocked the enemy warrior away from the she-cat. “Quick, Mousefur, run!” he ordered, before turning on the RiverClan tom who had threatened her. Mousefur scrambled to her paws, wincing from a deep gash on her shoulder, and raced away.

  Behind her, Tigerclaw spat with rage as the RiverClan tom sliced open his nose. Blood blinded him for an instant, but he lunged forward regardless and sank his teeth into the hind leg of his enemy. The RiverClan cat squealed and struggled free.

  “Tigerclaw!” The yowl came from a warrior with a tail as red as fox fur. “This is useless! There are too many RiverClan warriors!”

  “No, Redtail. ThunderClan will never be beaten!” Tigerclaw yowled back, leaping to Redtail’s side. “This is our territory!” Blood was welling around his broad black muzzle, and he shook his head impatiently, scattering scarlet drops onto the rocks.

  “ThunderClan will honor your courage, Tigerclaw, but we cannot afford to lose any more of our warriors,” Redtail urged. “Bluestar would never expect her warriors to fight against these impossible odds. We will have another chance to avenge this defeat.” He met Tigerclaw’s amber-eyed gaze steadily, then reared away and sprang onto a boulder at the edge of the trees.

  “Retreat, ThunderClan! Retreat!” he yowled. At once his warriors squirmed and struggled away from their opponents. Spitting and snarling, they backed toward Redtail. For a heartbeat, the RiverClan cats looked confused. Was this battle so easily won? Then Oakheart yowled a jubilant cry. As soon as they heard him, the RiverClan warriors raised their voices and joined their deputy in caterwauling their victory.

  Redtail looked down at his warriors. With a flick of his tail, he gave the signal and the ThunderClan cats dived down the far side of the Sunningrocks, then disappeared into the trees.

  Tigerclaw followed last. He hesitated at the edge of the forest and glanced back at the bloodstained battlefield. His face was grim, his eyes furious slits. Then he leaped after his Clan into the silent forest.

  In a deserted clearing, an old gray she-cat sat alone, staring up at the clear night sky. All around her in the shadows she could hear the breathing and stirrings of sleeping cats.

  A small tortoiseshell she-cat emerged from a dark corner, her pawsteps quick and soundless.

  The gray cat dipped her head in greeting. “How is Mousefur?” she meowed.

  “Her wounds are deep, Bluestar,” answered the tortoiseshell, settling herself on the night-cool grass. “But she is young and strong; she will heal quickly.”

  “And the others?”

  “They will all recover, too.”

  Bluestar sighed. “We are lucky not to have lost any of our warriors this time. You are a gifted medicine cat, Spottedleaf.” She tilted her head again and studied the stars. “I am deeply troubled by tonight’s defeat. ThunderClan has not been beaten in its own territory since I became leader,” she murmured. “These are difficult times for our Clan. The season of newleaf is late, and there have been fewer kits. ThunderClan needs more warriors if it is to survive.”

  “But the year is only just beginning,” Spottedleaf pointed out calmly. “There will be more kits when greenleaf comes.”

  The gray cat twitched her broad shoulders. “Perhaps. But training our young to become warriors takes time. If ThunderClan is to defend its territory, it must have new warriors as soon as possible.”

  “Are you asking StarClan for answers?” meowed Spottedleaf gently, following Bluestar’s gaze and staring up at the swath of stars glittering in the dark sky.

  “It is at times like this we need the words of ancient warriors to help us. Has StarClan spoken to you?” Bluestar asked.

  “Not for some moons, Bluestar.”

  Suddenly a shooting star blazed over the treetops. Spottedleaf’s tail twitched and the fur along her spine bristled.

  Bluestar’s ears pricked but she remained silent as Spottedleaf continued to gaze upward.

  After a few moments, Spottedleaf lowered her head and turned to Bluestar. “It was a message from StarClan,” she murmured. A distant look came into her eyes. “Fire alone can save our Clan.”

  “Fire?” Bluestar echoed. “But fire is feared by all the Clans! How can it save us?”

  Spottedleaf shook her head. “I do not know,” she admitted. “But this is the message StarClan has chosen to share with me.”

  The ThunderClan leader fixed her clear blue eyes on the medicine cat. “You have never been wrong before, Spottedleaf,” she meowed. “If StarClan has spoken, then it must be so. Fire will save our Clan.”

  CHAPTER 1

  It was very dark. Rusty could sense something was near. The young tomcat’s eyes opened wide as he scanned the dense undergrowth. This place was unfamiliar, but the strange scents drew him onward, deeper into the shadows. His stomach growled, reminding him of his hunger. He opened his jaws slightly to let the warm smells of the forest reach the scent glands on the roof of his mouth. Musty odors of leaf mold mingled with the tempting aroma of a small furry creature.

  Suddenly a flash of gray raced past him. Rusty stopped still, listening. It was hiding in the leaves less than two tail-lengths away. Rusty knew it was a mouse—he could feel the rapid pulsing of a tiny heart deep within his ear fur. He swallowed, stifling his rumbling stomach. Soon his hunger would be satisfied.

  Slowly he lowered his body into position, crouching for the attack. He was downwind of the mouse. He knew it was not aware of him. With one final check on his prey’s position, Rusty pushed back hard on his haunches and sprang, kicking up leaves on the forest floor as he rose.

  The mouse dived for cover, heading toward a hole in the ground. But Rusty was already on top of it. He scooped it into the air, hooking the helpless creature with his thorn-sharp claws, flinging it up in a high arc onto the leaf-covered ground. The mouse landed dazed, but alive. It tried to run, but Rusty snatched it up again. He tossed the mouse once more, this time a little farther away. The mouse managed to scramble a few paces before Rusty caught up with it.

  Suddenly a noise roared nearby. Rusty looked around, and as he did so, the mouse was able to pull away from his claws. When Rusty turned back he saw it dart into the darkness among the tangled roots of a tree.

  Angry, Rusty gave up the hunt. He spun around, his green eyes glaring, intent on searching out the noise that had cost him his kill. The sound rattled on, becoming more familiar. Rusty blinked open his eyes.

  The forest had disappeared. He was inside a hot and airless kitchen, curled in his bed. Moonlight filtered through the window, casting shadows on the smooth, hard floor. The noise had been the rattle of hard, dried pellets of food as they were tipped into his dish. Rusty had been dreaming.

  Lifting his head, he rested his chin on the side of his bed. His collar rubbed uncomfortably around his neck. In his dream he had felt fresh air ruffling the soft fur where the collar usually pinched. Rusty rolled onto his back, savoring the dream for a few more moments. He could still smell mouse. It was the third time since full moon that he’d had the dream, and every time the mouse had escaped his grasp.

  He licked his lips. From his bed he could smell the bland odor of his food. His owners always refilled his dish before they went to bed. The dusty smell chased away the warm scents of his dream. But the hunger rumbled on in his stomach, so Rusty stretched the sleep out of his limbs and padded across the kitchen floor to his dinner. The food felt dry and tasteless on his tongue. Rusty reluctantly swallowed one more mouthful. Then he turned away from the food dish an
d pushed his way out through the cat flap, hoping that the smell of the garden would bring back the feelings from his dream.

  Outside, the moon was bright. It was raining lightly. Rusty stalked down the tidy garden, following the starlit gravel path, feeling the stones cold and sharp beneath his paws. He made his dirt beneath a large bush with glossy green leaves and heavy purple flowers. Their sickly sweet scent cloyed the damp air around him, and he curled his lip to drive the smell out of his nostrils.

  Afterward, Rusty settled down on top of one of the posts in the fence that marked the limits of his garden. It was a favorite spot of his, as he could see right into the neighboring gardens as well as into the dense green forest on the other side of the garden fence.

 
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