(I forgot to use the word pursue. Nevermind, I just did.)
Blazepaw let Icedawn take the lead as the two cats padded quietly through the dark pine forest. Above them, slim rays of sunlight filtered through the dense pine needles, casting small circles of light on the smooth floor. Blazepaw picked his way silently through the bed of needles, keeping his head low and his tail high enough that it didn’t disturb the leaves.
He scented Hawkpelt and Antpaw before he and Icedawn stepped into the clearing. Hawkpelt was busy correcting his apprentice’s battle crouch and didn’t notice their entrance.
“Bunch up your hindlegs! Don’t put too much weight in front. You have to be strong! If a ThunderClan warrior came at you like this-”
Hawkpelt suddenly lunged at Antpaw, nearly bowling her over. The little pale gray she-cat yelped in surprise and staggered to regain her balance.
“You call that a battle stance?” Hawkpelt growled. “In a real battle, an enemy warrior would’ve came at you with tooth, claw, and no mercy. Keep this up and you’ll be dead in no time!”
Hawkpelt turned and spotted Icedawn standing awkwardly at the edge of the clearing with Blazepaw sitting next to her, licking his paw absentmindedly.
“Blazepaw!” Blazepaw looked up to see Hawkpelt beckoning him with the tip of his tail.
“Come here! Save me the need to kill my apprentice myself.” At this, Antpaw flinched, a look of utmost fear in her eyes, but Hawkpelt didn’t seem to notice. “Show Antpaw how a proper battle crouch is done.”
Blazepaw didn’t wait for Icedawn to give him permission. She was, after all, just a substitute for Leafburn. He padded towards Antpaw, who shrank away from him. Her bright blue eyes were a mixture of fear and embarrassment and Blazepaw suddenly felt his heartbeat quicken.
Three moons ago, Blazepaw, Antpaw, Twistpaw, and Shadepaw had been made apprentices and were assigned to their mentors. On the first day, he and Antpaw had explored ShadowClan territory together, and Blazepaw had caught a lizard and a frog. During battle training, he’d mastered the battle crouch and could pin down Shadepaw in a matter of seconds. Once, Twistpaw’s mentor Mooneye and Leafburn decided to test their apprentices against each other until one of them surrendered. Blazepaw had given Twistpaw a beating that landed him in the medicine den for three days. Twistpaw never teased him again after that.
Blazepaw gave Antpaw a brief glance before dropping down into the battle crouch. He held his position while Hawkpelt pointed out his posture to Antpaw.
“Now let me see that battle crouch,” the sleek brown tom growled to his apprentice.
This time, Antpaw managed a stable crouch that earned grunts of approval from Hawkpelt.
From the edge of the clearing, Icedawn finally cleared her throat. “Why don’t we hunt for a bit before heading back to camp? Try practicing on a bit of prey.”
Hawkpelt hesitated for a moment, then nodded curtly.
“Fine. Antpaw and I will hunt closer to the lake. You two can head towards the Strip between the two Twoleg Paths if you want.” With that, he and Antpaw slipped into the darkness of the trees.
Icedawn sighed and heaved a tired yawn. “All right then. Let’s go Blazepaw-”
She blinked and looked around but Blazepaw was already gone.