Black water trickled through the Place of No Stars. Suddenly everything flashed red and bright scarlet blood spattered onto the black ground. A set of eyes appeared in the darkness and slowly grew larger. Closer. Suddenly everything went total black. Lightning flashed far away, illuminating the Dark Forest a sharp white and suddenly a scarred, blood thirsty cat stood in the darkness.
Stainedpaw woke with a gasped, gazing around him wildly. He closed his eyes for a moment to catch his breath then reopened them slowly. He looked down to his right to see Maskpaw curled up in a tight ball, sleeping soundly. Just another nightmare. Stainedpaw reminded himself. His gaze drifted to his left where he saw Windpaw laying on her side, jaws stretched wide as she slept. A smile crept upon his face upon seeing her and he stood up slowly.
Stretching the fearful dream away, Stainedpaw gave himself a quick lick before walking out into the camp. He flinched as the usual rain pattered against his pelt. He sighed and walked deeper into the camp. A squeal froze Stainedpaw in his steps and he looked over to see Lilackit and Bonekit tumbling over each other in the mud.
Anger bubbled up within Stainedpaw as he watched the kits play. Irispool, their mother, lay in front of the nursery watching them, a smile painted upon her face. Stainedpaw's pelt pricked as he saw Hucklewind trot out from the warriors' den and walk over to his mate and sit down beside her, watching the kits fondly. A sudden pain stabbed at his heart as he watched how Hucklewind watched Bonekit and Lilackit. He never looked at Brother and me that way. He thought bitterly then shook his head, quickly shaking the thought away.
"Mumma!" Lilackit squeaked. "I tired Mumma I tired!"
"All right my little one." Irispool said gently. She stood up and looked to Bonekit. "Bonekit, it's time to go in." She called. The young tom turned around to face his mother and put on a pout.
"I no wanna go in yet!" Bonekit argued. "I still want to play." The kit planted himself into the mud, his tail slapping it with a splat. Irispool was about to argue but Hucklewind stopped her.
"Bonekit's a big tom now." He said playfully. "Let him explore. He won't get into any trouble." He said then turned to Irispool. "He won't get out of camp unnoticed." He added more silently to her. "He can't go without being seen. He'll be all right."
Stainedpaw snorted at Hucklewind's words. They sure noticed Windpaw and I gone for a whole night. He thought angrily, his neck fur rising and his anger grew. "All right." Irispool agreed at last and she, Hucklewind, and Lilackit retreated into the nursery, leaving Bonekit to play alone. Stainedpaw sat down near the apprentices' den and watched his half-brother as he played in the mud.
Bonekit bounced around and battered at the mud. He suddenly froze as a dragonfly flew awkwardly by and the tom chased it with his eyes. He suddenly leaped and clasped his paws to the ground. "Kits." He snarled to himself. His ears lifted as he realized Bone paw had the dragonfly pinned between his paws. He caught that on his first try? Stainedpaw thought, shocked.
The kit batted at the dragonfly before releasing its wing and allowing it to fly away. A low growl built up deep in Stainedpaw's throat as he watched his brother play. He's not my brother. Stainedpaw thought. Hucklewind isn't my father. "He never will be." He added out loud.
"You know what do to." Stianedpaw's heart jolted as the all too well known voice echoed in his mind. "I've taught you how." Stainedpaw lowered his head to his paws, hoping the voice would just stop. "You have two options." the voice continued. "Watch him grow up with the love your father never gave you…" Stainedpaw pulled his ears back and wrapped his tail around himself. "Or kill him."</s> Stainedpaw's sharp, curved, claws slid out and dug into the soft muddy ground. "Now you just have to decide how. Will you poison him? Or slice his throat?"
A chill ran down Stainedpaw's spine and he stood up suddenly. He twirled around to see Chillingburn staring right behind him. "Do it." The Dark Forest cat growled with a grin. "Leave me alone!" Stainedpaw shouted. Chillingburn's image faded and many cats lifted their head upon Stainedpaw shouting. Tigerbound who was lying beside Harvestfeathers both looked over to him and Ravenpaw suddenly woke up from her nap at the edge of the apprentices' den.
Stainedpaw turned tail and ran out of the camp, his mind racing. "This shouldn't be happening." He gasped as he ran through the land, allowing his paws to take him. "He shouldn't be contacting me! How can he still be with me!?" "I'm always with you" "No!" Stainedpaw yowled. Thunder rolled in the distance and lightning followed quickly after it. Stainedpaw suddenly took a turn and pelted away with his eyes closed.
"We fought them off!" Stainedpaw yowled. "Brother and I! We fought the Dark Forest cats together. We should be free!" "Once the curse is set there is no lifting it." "Leave me alone!" Stainedpaw screeched and opened his eyes. His vision was black for a moment as he stood panting. It took him a second to realize that rain no longer fell onto his pelt. Slowly his sight returned to him and he gazed around himself to see his paws had led him to the secret river caverns.
He stood in the center of the cavern, panting heavily. He couldn't hear Chillingburn's voice or feel his presence any longer. Stainedpaw looked around the cavern and slowly sat down. "What happened.." He muttered to himself. For a moment I really wanted to… Stainedpaw curled in a ball and stared at the river flowing through the cavern. He was glad only he and Windpaw knew of this place. He sighed and suddenly wished she was there beside him.
Anger slowly started to ebb away and fear settled in its place. Stainedpaw feared what he was becoming. I wanted to kill an innocent kit. He admitted to himself miserably. He covered his face with his paws as his body started trembling. He was becoming scared of the world and what went on in it. He feared Chillingburn wouldn't rest until he grasped Stainedpaw for his own. He feared Hucklewind would find out about him wanting to kill Bonekit. He feared Maskpaw would really leave him behind one day. But most of all he feared himself.
Stainedpaw let out a feebly whimper and closed his eyes tight. He brought his paws away from his face and shuffled them quickly before him. He wrapped his tail around himself tightly, his ears pressed against his head. "I wish.." He whispered. "I wish Windpaw was here."