During her first two moons as deputy, Swallowleap coped well. The Clan accepted her easily, ignoring that she was still a bit young. Hawkstar had refrained from attacking RiverClan or ShadowClan, evident by the ShadowClan cats' scar-less pelts. At the Gathering, Darkstar seemed to approve of Stormstar's choice of naming Swallowleap deputy.
After it had ended, he congratulated her before leaving.
Hawkstar, though, did not. He was cross the rest of the Gathering, his tail lashing and eyes narrowed as he glared at her.
"It hasn't rained for two moons. The river's drying up, and as well as us, prey is dehydrating," an elder, Palesight, snapped.
Swallowleap thought about Hazestripe's kits. One of the she-cats, Ripplekit, had died of dehydration. Hazestripe and Mistypelt were both devastated, but Swallowleap had convinced them that they had two other kits to care for.
She'd just sent out patrols, having to make two water patrols as well as hunting. Only one border patrol was sent out. This is disastrous, she thought, watching Frostbite support Pebblepaw as he led her to his den.
"Swallowleap!" She spun around, turning to see Sleetheart approach her.
"When Hazestripe's kits are apprenticed, can I mentor Whitekit? Please?" He asked. Swallowleap rolled her eyes at him,
"But Timberclaw's kits will be apprenticed soon."
Sleetheart slouched, scoffing at her, "Fine. Then let me mentor Splashkit."
"Aw, is wittle Sweetheart going to appwentice Spwashkit?" She asked, smirking. Sleetheart shouldered her, knocking her to the ground. "Respect your deputy! She holds authority over you!" She cried. Sleetheart pinned her with a smirk,
"Not in bed you don't."
Swallowleap's eyes widened, and she shoved the silver tom off of her. "That's private information!" She snapped, flustered. Sleetheart grinned devilishly at her,
"Aw, is wittle Swallowweap embarrassed?" "Shut up!" "No can do, my dear." "I hate you." "You love me." "No I don't." "You can't resist me." "Yes I can." "I'm too hot to handle." "No you're not."
A sharp crack interrupted their bickering, turning their attention to the direction it came from.
There, across the river, flames began to lick at a dried tree. They ate at the dead leaves, soon beginning to consume the trunk. "Fire!" Swallowleap yowled. Sleetheart only stood by her, staring at the flames as they leaped to other trees.
"Don't let it cross into our territory!" It's not in our territory? She noticed sunningrocks, then the burning trees.
It's in ThunderClan's!
A crowd had formed, some cats leaping on top of dens to get a better view. "We have to warn ThunderClan!"
"Are you insane?! Hawkstar will kill us if we set paw in his territory!"
"I think he'd rather have us help him than watch his territory burn to a crisp!"
Swallowleap gulped, speaking up, "I'll warn him. If he allows us to help, I'll call for a patrol. If he doesn't, then it's his loss."
The crowd fell silent, staring at her.
"Swallowleap, it's dangerous. You can get killed," Stormstar said as he approached her. "If he doesn't agree, it'd better to let me fight him. I've fought him before. I know what he'll do."
The old tom was silent for a long while, until he noticed the fire spreading at a fast rate. "Fine, go. I trust you," he said. Swallowleap gave him a firm nod, racing out of camp.
As she neared ThunderClan's territory, panic began to rise inside her. What if Hawkstar refused her, and the fire trapped her? You'll die fighting, then.
Determined, she approached ThunderClan's camp.
Inside, she saw ThunderClan and WindClan cats alike. They were frantic, watching the flames come closer and closer to their camp. A large golden tom approached Swallowleap, snarling,
"What is RiverClan doing here?"
"I offer help. We've dealt with a fire like this before, moons ago. Let me speak to Hawkstar."
"Who says that you're telling the truth?"
Narrowing her eyes, she firmly responded, "Me. Let me speak to Hawkstar."
Growling, the tom led her towards a den. Lichen hung over the entrance, darkening the interior of it. "Hawkstar, you have a visitor."
The large dark brown tom emerged, hissing as his eyes landed on her, "Give me one reason I shouldn't kill you right here, runt."
Swallowing hard, she said, "If you haven't noticed, your territory has caught fire. Stormstar sent me over here to offer help. We've dealt with a fire before, moons ago. When your father was alive."
"Do not speak of him. I still don't see why I should agree," he snapped, unsheathing his claws. Behind her, the golden tom chuckled.
"Thornstripe, leave. Deal with the fire, cry in a corner, I don't care. Just leave."
The golden tom briskly left. Coward.
"Now, tell me, why should I agree to your help? I specifically stated, moons ago, that ThunderClan is independent. We do not need help from other Clans," Hawkstar growled, still looking down at Swallowleap. She returned his stare, opening her mouth to speak,
"It would be foolish of you to refuse help. As you speak, the fire comes closer to burning down your entire camp. Your petty streams won't do anything to stop it. We, on the other paw, have a river. Just form a temporary truce, or watch your camp burn."
Hawkstar snarled at her, striking her face with his claws, "ThunderClan is independent! We do not need help from you or your stupid Clan! Leave my territory, mouse-brain! You're lucky I didn't choose to kill you."
Swallowleap stumbled to her paws, turning and hissing at him, "Fine, watch your camp burn like the coward you are!"
He hissed, leaping forward to pin her. But she'd already left, bounding away and dodging flaming branches that fell to the ground.
Smoke billowed into the sky, and she could feel intense heat all around her. Coughing, she found herself cornered as a large, flaming branch fell in front of her. The heat stung her eyes, triggering tears. She rose a paw to her face, stumbling back and coughing. The fire's gotten too large to stop. Sorry, Hawkstar, she thought bitterly.
Finally, she made the decision. She leaped through the flames and over the branch. Determined to make it out alive, she bounded through the burning forest. I've fallen over the water fall and lived, what could a petty fire do?
Soon, the river came into sight, and nothing was more welcoming than it. She leaped into it, pushing her fears of drowning away. Crawling out, a coughing fit came over her and she fell unconscious.
"Her paw pads were fairly burned as she escaped the forest. Her throat is sure to be sore when she wakes, but I can't give her any honey until she wakes up. StarClan knows the pain I've gone through to get some of it, and thank goodness I did." That was Frostbite's voice.
Am I stuck in the medicine den again?
"I still can't believe she leaped into the river like she did. She didn't even hesitate, and I should know how terrified of water she is. Was she even thinking straight?" That was Hazestripe.
"When threatened with death, one will do anything they can to escape it."
She wanted to open her eyes, but she couldn't. Her throat felt like it was burning as well. Instead of opening her eyes, though, she let out a feeble cough. It pained her throat, but she tried to ignore it.
"Swallowleap! Are you awake?"
Weakly, she nodded. Blinking, she looked around. Frostbite stood in front of her, and Hazestripe sat nearby.
"I assume that Hawkstar refused?" She nodded again. "That's exactly what I'd suspected, judging by the claw-marks on your cheek."
"He.. he said that.. Thunder.. ThunderClan was in.. independent," she rasped, her voice rough. "Does your throat hurt? I have some honey for that."
He offered her a leaf, and a small dab of a yellow liquid sat on it. Hesitantly, she licked at it. It was thick, sticky, and tasteless. It got stuck at the roof of her mouth, irritating her as she tried to swallow it.
"It tastes like nothing." "I'm aware."
"Is the fire still going?" "Yes, though it's dying down. I'd imagine that it's devoured ThunderClan's camp by now."
Images of the frantic warriors and apprentices surfaced, and she remembered how she'd seen ThunderClan and WindClan cats in the camp. "I saw both WindClan and ThunderClan cats in the camp. Why?"
"I heard that Hawkstar is keeping his strongest warriors and apprentices, ThunderClan and WindClan alike, in ThunderClan's camp. He's sent the weaker ones, elders included, to WindClan's camp."
"That's unfair! Also, why haven't they rebelled against him yet?"