Battles of the Clans
Illustrated by Wayne McLoughlin
Introduction: The Fire in Our Blood
Hallo, Ashfoot, who’s this? A couple of strays found on the moor? And they asked to see me? Well, bring them into my den; let’s have a look at them. You’re not Clan cats, are you? I don’t recognize your scent—and there’s a whiff of kittypet about you, if I’m not mistaken. Don’t look so scared. We don’t really line our nests with the bones of kittypets. See? Just moss and feathers. Bones are much too uncomfortable to lie on.
I am Onestar, leader of WindClan. And this is the WindClan camp.
You want to know what it’s like to be a Clan cat, don’t you? About the code that binds us and gives us the courage to survive, about the Gatherings, where we meet in peace for the flicker of a full moon to share tongues and wisdom and news. And the battles—oh, yes, the battles. I can see from the way your eyes gleam that this is what interests you most: the blood-soaked history of the four Clans, the fighting skills passed from mentor to apprentice.
Every young warrior dreams of going into battle. What better way to prove your loyalty to your Clan than to risk your own blood? And what better chance of personal glory? The greatest warriors are remembered by every Clan and are honored in the stars by our ancestors.
But don’t go thinking that warrior cats crave only spilled blood, the chill of a rallying yowl, and the heat of endless battles. Our lives are about so much more than fighting. We live to serve our Clan however we can, hunting for fresh-kill, building safe, sheltering dens for the queens and kits, paying our debt to our elders by caring for them before they go to join StarClan. Look around you: No cats are bleeding or limping from battle wounds; fur is flat and smooth, not ruffled in anger; there are no furious yowls carried on the air, just the purr of queens nursing their kits and the rumble of elders telling stories.
What’s that? Have I
Going into battle is the hardest decision a Clan leader can make. If I send my warriors to fight against another Clan, it hurts me more than any claw or tooth ripping through my pelt. Battle is the very last resort, and I, like all Clan leaders, will do anything to avoid spilling the blood of my warriors or those of another Clan.
Come with me, kittypets; I’ll take you to each of the territories and introduce you to these sometime allies, sometime enemies, and you will learn more about the battles of the Clans. Luckily for you, the Clans are at peace right now. There is a Gathering tomorrow night, so many of us will be resting before the late night and the journey to the island.
But remember, we have our claws and our teeth for a reason, and my warriors are as brave and skilled as any here. When the time for talking has passed, battle may be the only option. And never let it be said that WindClan cats are not to be feared when the rallying cry goes up:
Techniques and Strategies
Medicine cat: Jayfeather
Hunting territory: Forest
Camp: Stone hollow
Unique battle skill: Fighting in dense undergrowth
Onestar? Is something wrong? Who are your companions? Ah, a pair of curious kittypets. Welcome to ThunderClan. Our camp is on the other side of that row of thornbushes, sheltered by the cliffs of stone. Forgive me if I don’t invite you in. I have only your word and Onestar’s that you haven’t come to learn more than we are willing to share.
You want to know about ThunderClan’s battle tactics? Well, look around. Notice the brambles and ferns crowding in on you, blocking your sight. We see them as opportunities for camouflage and causing confusion to the enemy when we pounce on them from every side. We have been trained to fight in these enclosed spaces, paw-to-paw, with nowhere for the trespassers to flee. We can spin on the tip of a tail, find strength in a strike where there is barely room to draw back our paws, leap from a standstill while our enemy is struggling to turn around.
Firestar has even started holding training sessions in the trees so we can leap from branch to branch like squirrels and drop onto our enemies’ heads while they’re still trying to find our trail on the ground.
The forest is a magnificent place to fight. This is where we hone our stalking skills, our ability to creep up on our prey unnoticed and pounce with one brutal, effective leap.
You want to know the
Special Battle Tactic: Bumblepaw Learns the Lightning Strike
Hey! You guys! Wait till you hear what we did in training today!” Bumblepaw burst through the thorns and raced across the sunbaked earth to the elderflower bush where ThunderClan’s elders slept.
Two apprentices, Dovepaw and Ivypaw, were lying outside with Lionblaze and Purdy. The remains of a mouse and a thrush lay beside them, still warm and tempting, but Bumblepaw was too full of his news to leave room for any appetite.
“Are you going to tell us, or are we supposed to guess?” demanded Ivypaw.
Bumblepaw blinked. “Mousewhisker and Thornclaw taught us the best thing ever! It’s a kind of attack called a Lightning Strike, and it’s amazing! There’s no way we could lose a battle with this!”
Lionblaze snorted. “It takes more than one tactic to win a battle,” he warned. “But you’re right: The Lightning Strike is good for chasing out trespassers because it’s fast and takes the enemy by surprise.”
“Just like lightning!” Bumblepaw agreed. He noticed that Dovepaw and Ivypaw were looking blank. “It’s like this,” he explained. “You two sit over there”—he gave them a nudge with his nose until they shuffled away from Lionblaze and Purdy—“and pretend you’re invading my territory.”
“Are we enemies, too?” asked Purdy, sounding amused.
“No, you’re trees that I’m going to hide behind. First I’m going to track the enemy patrol through the forest.”
Dovepaw and Ivypaw watched wide-eyed as Bumblepaw crouched down behind the other cats and started to creep forward with his belly fur brushing the ground.
“You look like you’re stalking prey!” Dovepaw gasped.
Bumblepaw popped his head above Purdy’s back. “That’s exactly what I’m doing. And
“You should watch Sandstorm sometime, too,” Lionblaze put in. “She can track a mouse from the other side of the forest.”
Bumblepaw frowned at him. “Trees don’t talk!” he reminded the warrior. “This is my demonstration.”
Lionblaze flicked his tail against Bumblepaw’s shoulder. “Sorry!” he whispered.
Bumblepaw reached Purdy’s nose and stretched his neck until he could see Dovepaw and Ivypaw. Still crouching, he explained, “Once the enemy has been spotted, we sneak up until we can almost touch them. Then we wait for the patrol leader’s command—which will be a silent tail signal, obviously—and
Then he spun around and reared up toward Ivypaw, striking the air with his front paws.
“Got you!” he yowled.
Ivypaw twitched one ear. “You’re hardly the scariest warrior in the forest. You didn’t even touch me!”
“I wouldn’t keep my claws hidden if it were a real battle, mouse-brain!” Bumblepaw pointed out as he dropped back onto all fours. “I’d bite you and scratch you and slash you with my hind claws until you begged for mercy!”
Lionblaze interrupted him as Dovepaw’s and Ivypaw’s eyes grew even wider. “This tree is breaking its vow of silence to remind you not to give the new apprentices nightmares,” he warned.
Bumblepaw let his fur lie back down. “Well, you get the idea. We strike hard and fast, pouncing all at once to cause as much confusion as we can. Mousewhisker said to scratch the en ...