The cream and white she-cat raced out of StoneClan's camp early that morning, under the guise of hunting. ...In her defense, she had caught a mouse. But, tensions were beginning to rise, talk of making a move on the Sun Stones in the coming days raising many hackles amongst StoneClan members. Some tense encountered might have been unintentional, but... It was not an environment Herondive wanted to remain in. Her parents and Wolfclaw were doing their best to ease the brewing storm, yet Herondive had a feeling this was something that could only be erased once the event was over, once the Sun Stones were back under StoneClan's grasp.
She streaked over familiar territory, mindful of the chilled terrain; StoneClan was prone to icing over, due to the several exposed surfaces. Powerful hindlegs carried her across the Boulder Field, drawing nearer and nearer to the edge of StoneClan territory. She slowed before the Sun Stones, her blue gaze wandering over territory she'd once called home. Now it was foreign, stolen. With a flick of her tail, she began padding along the border, wandering mindlessly until she came across the path StoneClan had taken to the Gatherings since losing the Sun Stones. Pausing, she peered around to make sure no one was around before picking her way to StarClan's Claws.
It had been some time since she'd visited this place. Blue eyes drifted slowly over the large rock spires, remembering when she had been an apprentice and had gotten to see Hawkstar, her father, climb those stones and stand before the five Clans. He'd seemed so big back then. Indomitable. What had happened in recent moons to make her so... Doubtful. Nothing seemed sure anymore. She felt as though the world were tilting beneath her paws, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. No Clan could be trusted. No Clan but StoneClan.
She'd been standing in the center of StarClan's Claws, mouse dangling by the tail from her jaws, reminiscing about when life had seemed so much simpler, when movement caught her attention. A shape advanced from the shadows, melting into existence. Hissing because she'd let her guard down, Herondive glanced to her left, trying to find a way out. It was here she noticed a second shape advancing. And then a third. Taking a step back, Herondive's ears pinned to her head. Three? I can't take all three of them! She thought to herself.
Her rump bumped into the unyielding surface of StarClan's Claws, and the StoneClan warrioress knew she was trapped. Dropping her mouse, she bared her teeth, standing protectively over the piece of prey. "What do you want!" She yowled at them. One of the cats, a tom, sneered suddenly. "Hear that, Surgeclaw? She wants to know what we want!" The she-cat to her far left rolled her eyes with an irritated grunt just as the second large tom growled. "Shut up, Salmonclaw." With that, the bigger tom's attention zeroed back on Herondive. "Give us that mouse."
She wasn't sure why she felt such a strong surge of denial. Perhaps it was StoneClan's need for prey, perhaps it was suddenly realizing these cats were rogues previously disbanded from RainClan. Whatever the reason, she knew she'd never be able to just hand over her prey. Bowing low over the mouse, she slowly shifted her weight to her back legs. "Pry it from my cold, dead claws." She challenged, before shoving forward with all her strength. Darting rapidly toward the weaker of the toms, Herondive's jaws clung tightly to the mouse she'd snapped her jaws over moments ago.
Funneling as much strength as she could into her leap, she launched herself into the air with the ferocity of her SkyClan ancestors. She hit the ground hard, stumbling slightly in an attempt to escape. Unfortunately, the slight misstep offered just the opening needed for the she-cat to crash into her, knocking her off balance with a yowl of alarm. I'm going to lose. She thought to herself grimly.
He'd been roaming today, having gone out with the excuse of searching for herbs that had not yet died to the freeze of leaf bare. He'd found a few cold hardy herbs, some of which he didn't know the purpose of but knew they were useful and so gathered them anyway. He'd wandered pretty far afield by this point.
He'd gone almost to StarClan's claws when he heard the sound of a fight. Under most circumstances, he'd have left it alone since disputes outside TreeClan territory were none of his business. But what he saw threw that thought from his mind. A lone she-cat against three other cats that had only the faintest trace of RainClan on them. He had too strong of a sense of fair play to allow this to happen.
Falconstorm sped across the space separating him from the battle and took a flying leap to land in the midst of the battle. The leaf he'd brought along for the herbs was left in the hollow of a nearby tree so that he wouldn't lose it, but now he had shifted back into the movements of a trained warrior.
First off he grabbed the RainClan she-cat by the scruff and hauled her off the other she-cat that he finally could scent as belonging to StoneClan. He hadn't heard their reasoning, but he felt he didn't need to. They had attacked a lone she-cat, in a clearly unbalanced fight, in neutral-ish territory. He was a big tom, and these three were all smaller than him, especially as his long fur stood out on end.
"Now, lets try this when the odds aren't stacked so unfairly." He hissed at the cats, already putting himself between the she-cat with her mouse and the RainClan cats that he were sure were no longer can cats. They didn't act like clancats for sure.
The warrior turned medicine cat apprentice looked briefly over his shoulder to where the StoneClan she-cat had hit the ground. "Are you injured?"
Just as quickly as the she-cat had leapt on her back, something, or someone rather, hauled her off. Dragging herself to her paws, Herondive staggered slightly while blue eyes worked to refocus on the world around her. By some StarClan given miracle, the mouse was still firmly in her jaws, dangling by its tail. The scent of TreeClan suddenly invaded her senses, prickling the fur along her spine. By another StarClan given miracle, however, the TreeClanner seemed to be on her side. At least for now. Flicking her tail, the StoneClan warrioress scrabbled to regain her bearings and identify the location of all assailants.
The offending she-cat, who'd evidently been thrown by the TreeClan tom, was also staggering to her paws. The larger tom, whom she'd heard referred to as Surgleclaw, looked more confident as he stood his ground. The second tom, Salmonclaw, was practically hiding behind Surgeclaw. The last of the trio... Well she just looked pissed. Cream colored ears rotated suddenly, a voice greeting her as the TreeClan cat glanced over his shoulder at her. Blinking briefly at him, Herondive rolled her shoulders as though testing her musculature, searching for anything out of the ordinary. Shaking her head, she deposited the mouse at her paws.
"No... I'm good. Thank you." She meowed uncertainly. Slowly stepping forward, the StoneClan warrioress moved to stand beside the tom, though ensuring there was a comfortable distance between them. Distrust still fluttered in her, but... The TreeClanner had pulled the attacking she-cat off of her, right? Surely he wouldn't turn on her by the end of it? Shaking out her fur, she turned a cold gaze on the three ex-RainClanners. "Previous statement stands. That mouse is mine." Her pose was defensive, the adrenaline causing her heart to hammer in her chest. By her assessment, the three RainClanners weren't about to give up easily. At least... Two of them wouldn't.
Salmonclaw stepped out from behind Surgeclaw, putting on some sort of attempt at a brave face. "We can still take them! Right Surgeclaw?" She noticed irritation flicker over Surgeclaw's face, and it seemed enough to break the standstill. Surgeclaw leapt forward, his intent obviously to attack the TreeClan tom. The she-cat, meanwhile, aimed for Herondive. Cream ears pinned in response, muscles tensing along her spine in preparation for the attack. At the last moment, Herondive launched forward, diving beneath the she-cat and rolling so she could kick up with her hind legs.
Paws connected with a ribcage, forcing the breath out of the attacking she-cat. The ex-RainClan she-cat groaned and rolled, though Herondive didn't pause to watch. Spinning so that she was righted once more, she whirled on Salmonclaw as he tried to sneak up behind her. Now this... This might just work out. She thought to herself. With the help of the TreeClan tom, she might actually make it out alive and with her mouse.
He had to trust that the she-cat could defend herself. She certainly didn't look like an expectant queen, so that meant she was hopefully a warrior of some skill. He couldn't think on it too much, not when he had to defend himself and her from being overwhelmed by the warriors that she'd run into.
When the older tom lunged at him Falconstorm darted sideways then came at him from the side while he was still off balance from that forward momentum. He tackled him to the ground, but unlike his attack of the she-cat he put his whole body on top of the tom and clawed at the dishonorable cat. They rolled around for a few moments before Falconstorm broke away, sides heaving and a little dirty from rolling around, but unharmed thankfully.
His enemy, however, now had a long scratch down one side. He hissed violently and made to go after the little tom left standing, except that he'd already run. It didn't take long, just their combined efforts, and the other two cats ran as well. "Hunt for yourselves!" He called after then, still breathing pretty hard from the fight.
After a few minutes to make sure they didn't circle around to come back he turned to the she-cat from StoneClan and tipped his head. He noticed she still had the mouse, and finally sat down and circled his fluffy tail around his paws. She was a very lovely she-cat, he noticed, and didn't seem all that worse for wear. Still, he was a medicine cat, even if in training, and that was the first thing he had to worry about, different clan or not. "Did the she-cat manage to hurt you?"
Salmonclaw was sent sprawling beneath her paws, the white and cream she-cat using the small tom as a springboard to launch herself onto the opposing she-cat crawling to her paws. She didn't pause to listen to Salmonclaw's groan of pain and embarrassment, too caught up in her tussle with the ex-RainClan she-cat once more. Herondive did, however, pay attention long enough to catch a name. Darkrose. She hissed to herself. She wouldn't be forgetting these names any time soon. Sharp claws dug into the opposing she-cat's pelt as the StoneClan warrioress rolled once more, forcing her opponent to the ground.
Standing over the downed she-cat, Herondive's sides heaved and her ears were pinned against her head. Bright blue eyes flashed from Darkrose to Salmonclaw, doing what she could to track both opponents so the TreeClan tom could focus on the larger and more battle-adept Surgeclaw. Sidestepping to avoid a slashing paw, Herondive feinted toward Salmonclaw just as the TreeClan tom did the same; the combined effort was evidently enough to send the cowardly tom running for the hills. "Pathetic." Came Darkrose's muttered breath, drawing Herondive's attention immediately. With one threat gone, the playing field was very much leveled.
Before long, and following a well aimed blow to the ex-RainClan she-cat's shoulders, both remaining opponents were sent running. Dropping to a sit after recovering her mouse, Herondive fought to reestablish a regular breathing rhythm. Brilliant blue eyes drifted over to the TreeClan tom seated not far from her. He appeared to be watching her, leaving Herondive to straighten almost self-consciously. Cream ears shifted forward, drawn by his concerned mew breaking the silence. Save for a throbbing paw (she'd stumbled in one of her tussles), she felt no major injuries. Lifting her sore paw and giving it a little shake, Herondive followed suit with her head fairly quickly.
"No... Nothing major, anyway. A couple of bruises at worst." She meowed, her voice gruff if only due to uncertainty. Glancing down at the ground, her ears pivoted atop her head as the StoneClan she-cat adopted a nearly apologetic look. "I'm uh... Sorry you had to get involved in that... You could have gotten hurt, and that wouldn't have been fair to you. But... Thank you. For... For helping me." She trailed off awkwardly, not really sure how she should proceed. Clearing her throat as she glanced over her shoulder (pretending to be looking out for attackers when really she was embarrassed), she added. "My name is... Herondive."
"Its alright. It goes against my nature to stand by when I could do something to help the situation. And I could, and I did." He shrugged, fluffy tail flicking behind him as his fur stood out on end after the battle. He was on edge, but this had the feeling of after-battle nerves rather than aggression towards the she-cat. He had no reason to fight with her, after all. "I'm Falconstorm." She spoke of bruises and he sighed, actually glad it wasn't any worse than that. "We were both lucky then, it seems. StarClan was watching out for us today."
His ears swiveled around for a long time before the tom decided they were safe enough. "I doubt those three will be back anytime soon. Their injuries weren't too severe, but I can only hope they have access to a medicine cat." He didn't wish anyone dead over a skirmish. "Hopefully they learned their lesson and won't attempt something like this again." He'd figured out halfway through the battle that it had been over prey. "Three cats strong enough to fight can hunt for themselves." His voice dripped with disdain over that matter. "And a lone mouse certainly wasn't worth the altercation."
He shook his head and padded over so he was standing near the she-cat again. She was a pretty she-cat for sure, he could see that. He may have been on the path of the medicine cat, but he still had eyes. He couldn't even offer to walk her home, as they were from two different clans. This was border territory, so technically he wasn't in any trouble. At least not yet. "I'll be right back." He told her before dashing off to check where he'd stashed his herbs.
Satisfied by their safety, and after putting a rock on top to keep them from blowing away, Falconstorm returned to Herondive. After all, he'd noticed she'd lifted her paw. "Bruises you said? Can you bear weight on your paw?"