Rising Leader (part 2)
(Hawley, MN, USA)
Please see Part 1 first if you have come straight to this page.
..I ran over to Ashpaw who was my den mate in the nursery. He was being held down by the dog. I jumped on the dog, and sunk my teeth and claws into it’s back. It leaped in surprise, squirming and twisting the dog tried to shake me off, but I wouldn’t let go!
Ashpaw went around behind the dog and bit into it’s left hindleg. He turned around to face Ashpaw, then I lost my balance and fell off. The dog turned around, lifted a paw, and sent me tumbling with a blow to my side.
I got up in time to see the dog running away with a deep cut in it’s leg. I rushed over to my father and mother. While Nightclaw clawed the left hind leg, and Spottedtail clawed the other, the only thing I could do was jump on the dog. So, I jumped, sank my teeth into the shoulder, and raked my claws along it’s back. It tumbled to the ground.
Soon, all the dogs fled. But one came out of the shadows, grabbed Spottedtail, then raced out of the camp. Before anyone could stop me, I raced after the dog. I knew it would outrun me, so I followed the scent trail until it stopped. When I got to the end, I saw the dog leaning over Spottedtail.
“No, leave her alone!” I shouted as I leaped on top of the dog. I raked its sides, jumped down and turned to face the dog. He stood there a deep rumbling coming from his throat. Then just as he raised a paw to strike me down, I jumped up and sank my teeth into it’s neck. He yelped in pain and tried to shake me off, but I just raked my claws down his neck. Then the dog toppled over trying to breathe. Then lay motionless among the leaves.
I let go of his neck. I sat down with a heavy sigh. I was so tired, I thought I would die right where I sat. After I caught my breath, I padded over to Spottedtail. What I saw was not good, she had a deep gash on her side that was still bleeding.
I stood there thinking about what Blackleg used to stop the bleeding on my cut. “Oh, now I remember, it was spiderwebs!” I said outloud. I went to the nearest tree and grabbed some spiderwebs and padded over the Spottedtail. She lay unconscious on the forest floor. I wrapped them tightly around the wound, grabbed her tail and dragged her back to camp.
When I got to camp, I set her outside the medicine cat’s den and said, “Come out Blackleg. We need you!” I rushed out of the entrance and ran back to the dog. I grabbed the long tail and lugged the dog back to camp. It took me until sundown to get the dog back to camp.
When I got inside, everyone crowded around the dog. They were examining the cuts on its back, sides and throat. All I did was sit there thinking about how I killed the dog. “It must have been because of the prophecy. It’s true!” I muttered under my breath.
“How did you kill that dog?” “What, uh oh.” Ashpaw just stood there waiting for me to reply. “I jumped onto it’s back, and sank my teeth and claws into him; raked his sides with my claws, jumped down, faced him and sank my teeth into his neck. Then, scratched with my claws.” “Could you teach me?” “Sure, I could teach you now!”
“Darkpaw, Nightclas, please come to my den.” I recognized the voice of Blackleg. I padded slowly over and into the den. “Darkpaw, is that you?” It was my mother. “Yes, it’s me.” “I will probably be traveling to Starclan soon, but I just wanted you both to know that I love you, and will forever be watching you.”
Then she closed her eyes. I knew she had died. I backed up, turned and fled. I ran past Ashpaw to the entrance, then ran to the place where I saved her from the dog. There was an opening beneath a tree. I squeezed under and spread out among the dirt. My ears twitched at the sound of someone calling my name, but I didn’t bother to listen.
After a while, I heard my name louder and closer than before. Following was Ashpaw. He padded closer and said, “Are you going to be okay?” I didn’t answer. “Why don’t you come with me and we can sit the honors vigil for Spottedtail.” I came out, then we padded in silence all the way to camp. We walked inside, went to the middle of clearing, and lay down by the other cats. I touched my mother’s side with my nose, and we sat honors vigil until the dawn patrol left.
Ashpaw and I went to the fresh kill pile. I picked out a mouse, then said, “Follow me.” Ashpaw didn’t say anything. I brought him to the training grounds.
“Did you bring any fresh kill with you?” “Yes, I did.” he said. “Well, we’d better eat, because we have a lot of work ahead of us.” “Why?” “You’ll see.” We ate our mice, then I said, “The reason I brought you here is to show you how I killed the dog.”
Ashpaw jumped up instantly like a dog was right behind me now. “The first thing you do is run straight at the dog and jump on its back, like this.” I ran at him and leaped on his back.” Then you rake your claws along its sides.” With my claws sheathed, I ran my paws along his sides multiple times. “Next, you jump down and face the dog.” So, I jumped down, turned to face him and said, “Then when he lifts his paw to strike, you rush, grab its neck, and if he tries to shake you off, use your claws.”
Then he said, “Can I try now?” “Sure.” He ran at me, jumped on my back, ran his paws along my sides, claws sheathed, jumped down, turned to face me, carefully grabbed my neck and used his paws to scratch my neck, claws sheathed.
We practiced until near sundown. All the training tired us out, so when we got back to camp we ignored the cats asking, “Where were you?” Until we reached the apprentice dens. When we got inside, Pepperpaw was sleeping. It wasn’t until we settled down next to her when she asked, “Where were you?” “We were at the training ground.” I confessed. “Darkpaw was showing me how she attacked and killed the dog.” “Why didn’t you take me with you?” “How about I take you both tomorrow?” “That would be great!” Pepperpaw exclaimed.
We all got ready for a good night’s sleep. In the early morning, before anyone was awake, I padded Ashpaw and Pepperpaw awake. “Let’s go hunt. Then start training!” We padded quietly out of the camp, we caught three voles. “Let’s bring this to the training grounds so no one finds us.” We picked up our kill and headed to the training hollow. After we had eaten, I sat up and said, “Pepperpaw, I will go through the steps for you.” Pepperpaw sat there waiting for me to do something. So I went through the steps, demonstrating on Ashpaw, then she said, “Is it my turn yet?” “Yes, but try on me, Ashpaw looks tired.”
So I let her practice, then we all lay down because we were tired. “Hey, what are you all doing out here?” It was Rainfoot, the deputy. In a strong voice I answered, “I was teaching them how I fought the dog!” He narrowed his eyes, “Why would you do that?” “Because they wanted to learn.” I said. “Well, if you are so keen to teach, why not teach me?” “If you want to, I guess!”
So, I showed him how, then let him try by himself since we’re too small for him to jump on our backs. “I am very impressed by your teaching skills.” Rainfoot said. “Well, I am glad you think so.” He turned around and with a flick of his tail, he summoned us to follow him back to camp. “Ashpaw and Pepperpaw have listened to me now, Rainfoot, it must be true, I must become leader.” I muttered to myself. Once we reached camp, Rainfoot turned around and said, “Ashpaw, Pepperpaw, go get something from the fresh kill pile.” They bounded happily away. “Darkpaw, what were you saying back there?” I walked past him, turned my head, grinned and said, “Nothing really.” I walked over to the apprentice den, sat in my next, and fell asleep….