Freezepaw rested her head on her paws and sighed. It was nearly sunhigh, and she had done nothing all morning. Looking around, she wondered where Eclipsesun was. The only cat she noticed still in camp was Scatterstar, who seemed to be occupied in something. Freezepaw shook her head. She wished she could go hunting, or at least do something. Freezepaw got up. The fresh-kill pile looked a little low. It could use restocking, she thought to herself. And I need to get out of camp. Maybe I should go talk to Scatterstar...? Freezepaw headed over to the NorthClan leader. Cautiously, she spoke up. "Scatterstar?"
Observing the nature of the weather, Scatterstar was lost in thought. The Clans with their many new leaders made it feel like things were starting over. It also meant that many of the Clans were open and vulnerable to an attack, and if he planned correctly he could take over whatever he wanted to. NorthClan had many warriors, but because the gatherings were secretive on which Clan had how many members (save for any leader boasting on it), he didn't know if his Clan was the largest or not.
His ears flicked as he heard the sound of an apprentice's voice, calling his name, and one of them approached him. He recognized the apprentice as Freezepaw, and turned his attention to her. "Is there something you need, Freezepaw?" he asked. He was certainly not negligent of the needs of his clan members. He wondered just what the apprentice would have him do for her, however.
"I..." Freezepaw began, a little nervous. "I've been in camp all morning, Scatterstar! Please can I join a patrol?" Freezepaw blurted out. She hoped it didn't sound like she was whining. "You see, I think Eclipsesun went on one without me, o-or something. I don't know where he is!" Freezepaw stared at the leader, her eyes wide. "I realize I'm babbling like a kit, Scatterstar, but I've been cooped up in camp for awhile. I could use a job or a patrol." She twitched her whiskers. "Before I go completely crazy!" She hoped Scatterstar would understand. He was always kind to his Clanmates.
The Clan leader was sure he had enough cats out hunting, but Freezepaw did look incredibly bored. He wondered if maybe she would be up for a special assignment. Since the number of cats in each Clan was on his mind, he knew what he was going to do. He would send her to spy on the closest Clan: EastClan.
"I have a much more important assignment for you than just hunting," he meowed, his blue eyes glimmering. "I need you to do something that will make you a hero, if you do it right." He knew that it was risky sending an apprentice to spy, but he also knew that they'd be a lot easier on her if they caught her than they would be on a grown warrior.
"I need you to go down to EastClan's territory and find out for me how many cats they have," Scatterstar told her. "You must do your best to not be caught, but if you are, tell them that you wandered down there by mistake. If they take you to their camp, simply use the opportunity to count their warriors, and then have them return you to NorthClan." The way he planned, the worst EastClan would most likely do is reprimand Freezepaw and send her home. He didn't suspect that they were the type to keep prisoners.
Freezepaw narrowed her eyes, determined. "I'll do it, Scatterstar." Turning, she loped out of the camp, and headed for the EastClan border. It was a long way, and by the time she reached the scent line she was winded. She paused, staring over the border. She wondered what their territory was like. Freezepaw cocked her head, thinking. She had no idea where the camp was and who the EastClan warriors were. I know, she thought. Ill cross over the border and pretend I'm lost. Maybe they'll take me to their camp. Freezepaw grinned and padded over the scent line slowly and zigzagged her path as if she were lost. She would make Scatterstar- and the rest of NorthClan- proud.
Scatterstar watched her leave with a glimmer of pride in his eyes for the loyalty of his Clan. Freezepaw's determination reflected well on NorthClan's status as a powerful Clan. He could only hope that his guesses about EastClan were correct, and that they wouldn't harm the apprentice in any way.
He knew he probably wouldn't be able to forgive himself if something like that happened. He was a bloodthirsty cat, yes, but he valued the members of his Clan... if one warrior was lost, it affected his reputation, respect and position. "Good luck, Freezepaw," he murmured.
Freezepaw ducked through the camp entrance with Sunstripe at her heels. She shook out her fur and yawned, tired from her long day. She gestured for Sunstripe to follow her, then padded to the leaders' den. "Scatterstar?" she called out softly, careful not to wake the whole camp. It was still nighttime. "It's me, Freezepaw. I've returned from EastClan."
She stepped away from the entrance to give Scatterstar room. Next to her, Sunstripe stood tensely. Of course he was nervous in the strange camp. Plus, the temperature here was much different than EastClan's. She purred softly to herself. She had probably acted the same way.
Sunstripe walked with caution into the camp. He was concerned about what the NorthClan cats would do. He knew that many of them were reputed to be fairly nice, but they were strong and very loyal to their Clan and the word of their leader was law. Scatterstar was the cat who Sunstripe did not trust. He makes up his own rules, and he's entirely too bloodthirsty, he thought.
He could feel a chill in the air. He didn't know how these cats could stand living so close to the freezing mountains. He was used to the warm temperature in the EastClan fields, where the sun would hit his fur just right. He waited, watching with wide eyes.
He was mildly surprised when the apprentice came back as promptly as she did. He had been certain that there would be some sort of problem involved. He noticed the fact that she brought an EastClan cat with her. His ears flattened. "Who's this?" he asked, eyeing the stranger. In a much lower voice he added, "How many able warriors do they have?"
He was curious to hear her explanation for bringing the cat with her, and wondered if whatever it was could give him the excuse he needed for starting the war. He was going to do battle with EastClan, no matter what he had to do to create such a thing.
"This is Sunstripe," Freezepaw said, nodding to him. "He's an EastClan warrior. He... tried to attack me, and crossed our border. I brought him here." Freezepaw flicked her tail. "One less warrior in their camp, I suppose. They have more warriors than we do; however, we have surprise on our side." Freezepaw blinked, and locked her gaze with her leader's. "Scatterstar, I don't mean to challenge you, but is this really a good idea? They are more accustomed to fighting in their territory, and they have so many warriors..." Freezepaw trailed off.
She glanced at Sunstripe behind her. He was kind, and a good warrior. His Clan had shown little hostility toward her. Was it fair to fight them on such measures? Freezepaw felt sorry for what she was about to put his Clan through. They were about to be attacked in their own dens and have their territory stolen. They needed all the land they could get with leaf-bare approaching.
Freezepaw shook her head, clearing her thoughts. her mind was so troublesome sometimes. NorthClan needed lots of prey, too. Scatterstar had told her that this was best for NorthClan. She couldn't think about EastClan--she had to remain loyal to her own Clan. This was for the best.
But it is worth it? Freezepaw thought. Is this really fair?
Hearing about the impending war, Sunstripe swallowed. Maybe he wasn't always loyal to his Clan, one hundred percent, but in this case he knew that he needed to get back tell Ripplestar. A war between EastClan and NorthClan? That could be a disaster! They were the two largest Clans, and could easily wipe each other out.
He heard Freezepaw try to contradict her leader and suggest that it may not be a good idea. Brave, Sunstripe thought. It wasn't often that he heard of Scatterstar's warriors questioning his authority. If Scatterstar said was going to attempt to take over EastClan territory, then that meant he wasn't going to change his mind.
The NorthClan leader took a moment to pretend to be considering what Freezepaw was saying. In reality, he wasn't about to change his mind about the war, and not for anything. He was going to conquer EastClan's territory whether anyone said anything or not. He looked over to Sunstripe, examining him. He'd have to think of something to do with him.
He heard Freezepaw's concerns. EastClan may have many warriors, but that again was not something that would stop Scatterstar. "I appreciate your concerns, Freezepaw," he meowed when she was done speaking. "However, you know that since we live in a colder climate it would do us well to have the flatlands in our grasp. They almost always have prey in EastClan territory."
He looked at Sunstripe again. Whatever he did, he wasn't about to let the EastClan warrior go back to his Clan, and no word of any of this was going to reach Ripplestar. He needed complete element of surprise.
Freezepaw lowered her head. Of course he didn't listen to her. She was still an apprentice, after all. She sighed, glancing sadly at Sunstripe. This was all going wrong. Scatterstar wouldn't let Sunstripe off easily. Freezepaw thought it was only territory Scatterstar wanted, not a full-fledged war. No Clan would call her a hero now.
She shook her head. "Scatterstar, may I go to sleep now? I've had a busy day," she meowed softly, trying not to let her despair show. Inside, she felt like a warrior had clawed out her heart. She was so disappointed in herself. Why had she thought it would all end well? She knew Scatterstar was power-hungry. EastClan did not deserve this. Neither did the NorthClan warriors.
You're so stupid, she cursed herself. You should never had accepted this mission. Freezepaw said nothing, only hung her head. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Sunstripe's worried face. This was a mistake.