Freezepaw stood at the EastClan 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. I'll 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 had chosen her for this mission, and she would complete it to the best of her ability. I'll be a hero.
Sunstripe was out in the fields, his yellow-orange tabby fur warmed by the sun and blown by the breeze that swept across the plains. This time he scented a strange scent, interrupting his patrol. His ears went back. It smelled distinctly like NorthClan, with the cold icy scents and pine smell in their fur.
He could see a cat in the distance and he narrowed his eyes. It looked only to be an apprentice who had accidentally crossed the borders, but he didn't know if there were warriors waiting to ambush as well. He approached with caution. He had friends in NorthClan, but was certainly not the ally of every NorthClan cat. "You there, NorthClanner!" he meowed. "What are you doing here?"
Freezepaw heard a voice in the distance. "You there, NorthClanner! What are you doing here?" She looked around to see an orange tabby coming towards her. She flattened her ears to her head and widened her eyes, feigning innocence. "I-I'm sorry!" she mewed. "I got lost!" Freezepaw hoped he wouldn't see past her facade. He didn't seem hostile. "Where am I? How do I get home?" She asked the tom. She hoped he didn't send her home. She couldn't let Scatterstar down. Freezepaw stood silently, waiting for a reply.
Sunstripe started to realize that it really was just a lost apprentice. Nonetheless, he would have to take her back to the EastClan camp just to make sure that the leader knew about her trespassing. The apprentice looked distressed, so Sunstripe knew that it had just been a simple mistake.
"Come with me, NorthClanner," meowed Sunstripe. "I've got to take you to our leader so that he can decide what to do with you. You've stumbled into EastClan territory. Tell me your name." He tried his best to look stern, but he didn't want to frighten the NorthClan apprentice anymore. She must have come a long way down from the foothills.
Freezepaw nodded when the tom said to come back to camp with him. The plan was working perfectly. "Tell me your name," the tom had asked her. "My name is Freezepaw," she responded. This cat reminded her of NorthClan warriors. She could see he was trying to be stern, yet underneath he was as kind as her own Clanmates. She had to lengthen her strides and step quickly just to keep up with him. "Er...what is your name?" she asked the warrior. "Will I have to stay in camp overnight?" Freezepaw pretended to look scared. "I--I just want to go home! My Clan will be worried."
He listened as she spoke her name. Freezepaw. There was a NorthClan name if Sunstripe had ever heard one. They were often times named after cold things, just like the foothills they came from. They lived so close to the mountains that snow was very ordinary for them. He continued to walk, watching her closely as he led her back to the camp.
"My name is Sunstripe," he meowed to her. "I don't know if you'll have to stay with us overnight yet. I'll speak with Ripplestar about it, and he'll decide what will happen to you." He looked at her, hoping she wouldn't panic. He knew that Ripplestar probably wouldn't be too harsh. "Don't worry, you'll get home soon." He wasn't sure if maybe his Clan would decide to keep Freezepaw as a prisoner, as was a common thing to do when cats were caught trespassing.
Freezepaw nodded, trying to keep her wide eyed nervous look. Sunstripe was such a strange name. She had never heard of a cat named after the sun! Its rays did little for NorthClan's cold territory. Secretly, Freezepaw hoped she could stay in camp longer. It would be easier to conduct her mission. Still, this tom was so kind. He was just like her Clanmates...something told her maybe she shouldn't go through with the mission. but I want to be a hero... Freezepaw noticed that Sunstripe had stopped beside her. They were at what seemed to be the camp. She gazed around anxiously. It was so strange! Where are the dens?
Sunstripe could see that Freezepaw was confused about the surroundings. NorthClan cats were used to their tunnel dens, in the rocks. EastClan cats just slept in designated areas underneath the trees, which sheltered them from the weather. "It's not like your home, is it?" meowed Sunstripe.
He looked around for Ripplestar. The leader was probably somewhere around, taking care of some time of business. He didn't think Ripplestar needed to leave the camp, and he was there last Sunstripe checked. "Stay right here," he commanded. "I'm going to get Ripplestar. He hoped that Freezepaw wouldn't be bothered by too many curious EastClan cats.
The lean seal tabby tom was resting under a looming tree off to the side of the camp. Bright cerulean eyes observed the clan, lingering over every cat within his vision before moving along. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at EastClan, which was a relief to him. Ripplestar shifted into a more comfortable position and drew his chin out, enjoying the passing breeze.
A slight odd scent hit him; it was familiar but something seemed quite off. It was fresh too. Ripplestar glanced over at the camp where he spotted Sunstripe whom he believed had gone off on a patrol. It was then that he saw a gray tabby she-cat, someone he never believed to have seen before. Eyes narrowed in confusion, the EastClan leader rose to his feet and went over to his fellow warrior.
"Hello, Sunstripe. How was the patrol?" he asked calmly. Cobalt eyes glanced over at the young she-cat, an apprentice he believed and Ripplestar offered a small smile in assurance that she didn't need to be scared. Perhaps she had wandered onto EastClan territory? Or was there a motive under her presence at their camp? Either way, he wouldn't jump to conclusions without hearing what happened first.
One, two, Freezepaw counted to herself. A lean EastClan tom had approached Sunstripe. Three. He shot her a quick smile, before asking him about a patrol. Freezepaw counted another three warriors before the tom turned his attention to her. "I see you brought company?" he had asked Sunstripe. Oh. This must be the EastClan leader.
Freezepaw licked her almost-white chest fur a little nervously. This tom was bigger than Shatterstar, and looked like he could easily slice her open. "I...I wandered over the border. I was lost." Freezepaw tried to look like a frightened apprentice. Seven, eight, nine, ten... How many warriors did EastClan have? Perhaps they were between patrols. "Do I have to stay in camp overnight?" She blurted out. Freezepaw wanted to know how much time she had left, but to a cat who didn't know her mission she just wanted to go home. Eleven. Twelve...
Freezepaw glanced at the two warriors. She couldn't imagine facing them in battle, not after they were so kind to her. Did Shatterstar know what he was getting into? The Clan seemed a little smaller than NorthClan, yet they were used to fighting on the open plains. Could NorthClan win a battle against them?
Sunstripe dipped his head to his leader. "Yes, I found this apprentice from NorthClan. She seems to have wandered over the borders." He turned his head to look at her. She seemed to be scared, though he hoped that he'd not given her any reason to be afraid of him. What she said reinforced what he told his leader, and he saw her eyes darting back and forth. He wondered why she seemed so frantic.
When she asked her question, he looked back at Ripplestar. "Will she have to stay here?" he asked. He looked up at the sky. It was mid-afternoon now, but it would soon be sunset. Any attempt to return her to her camp could potentially lead to them being ambushed by the often hostile NorthClan warriors. It was probably true that the cold climate they lived in had chilled their hearts.
This apprentice seemed nice enough, though, if not a little bit skittish.
Ripplestar blinked in surprise as Sunstripe explained what happened. Although this was hardly any danger- from what he believed- that nagging sense in his mind continued to prod him, doubt overcoming him. She was an apprentice, although young, she was old enough to know the boundaries of her territory...if her mentor had taught her well. But what she said seemed to hold true as well. Perhaps the young apprentice really did cross over the borders on accident.
As much as a sense of skepticism washed over him, Ripplestar restrained himself from jumping to conclusions lest it start some sort of suspicion toward Scatterstar. The lanky tom didn't reply to Sunstripe's question immediately, his eyes lingered over the young apprentice, assessing the situation. The NorthClan apprentice seemed rather nervous with shifty eyes. Skittish and high-strung, Ripplestar could hardly blame her for acting such a way when she was in a completely different surrounding.
Blue eyes glanced over at the sky, squinting at the beams of sunlight still visible to them. It would soon be near sunset soon. Wandering around the borders so late into the day would surely cause suspicion amongst NorthClan if not aggressiveness. Ripplestar sighed.
"Although there is sunlight left, I'm afraid it's a bit too late to wander near their borders. Scatterstar wouldn't like the idea of treading near NorthClan territory so late. It would only arouse suspicion."
Ripplestar gazed at the young apprentice, eyes softening in sympathy. "I'm sorry but it looks like you'll have to stay for the night." He turned to Sunstripe. "Get some bedding and food for her."
Freezepaw nodded, thinking. She looked at her paws, pretending to seem disappointed. "All right," she mewed. Even though most of the cats seemed to be in camp, it would be easy to count them in the morning before patrols. She hoped she really was doing the right thing. She didn't want to fail her leader and Clan, yet she didn't want any other Clan to suffer for it. She yawned, the heat making her drowsy. NorthClan territory would be almost cold at this time, yet the EastClan camp was still quite warm.
She glanced up at the sky. The sun was still beating down on the camp. It would be a long night. She doubted it would be much cooler. Yet the cats slept outside, making it far easier to count them. The EastClan cats wouldn't know what hit them. Serves them right, for such an open camp, she thought. It would be easy. The Clan would settle down for the night, their numbers clearly visible to the apprentice. Then, after she counted them, she would sneak out of camp. Easy.
Even though Freezepaw was a prisoner, Sunstripe was determined to make her as comfortable as possible. They did want to maintain a good relationship with NorthClan after all. NorthClan cats were quick to jump to fighting, and if they found out about any mistreatment of Freezepaw, they'd be down to attack the camp as quickly as they could get to their paws. Scatterstar seemed especially quick to react to even the slightest hint of a threat.
He walked away, looking to go and find some bedding for the wayward apprentice. He looked over at the drab prisoner's den (which was more of a dip in the ground), and dragged some fresh moss towards it. It didn't smell pleasant, but it wasn't anything that couldn't be handled with a few good smelling herbs. He found some growing nearby and placed them in there. Then he went to the fresh kill pile and brought a mouse, placing it in front of Freezepaw. "Eat up. You'll be sleeping over there," he flicked his tail to the dip in the ground to indicate.
Ripplestar smiled sympathetically, watching the young she-cat yawn; she must have been tired after such a long journey away from her home. He wondered if any of the NorthClan cats knew if the young apprentice was gone.
The shroud of doubt stirred within him, surfacing and he tried to push it out of his mind. There wasn't any reason why the NorthClan apprentice would wander into his clan. But...it was so suspicious and he couldn't help but to ponder once more if there was any deeper meaning behind the she-cat's presence. The lanky tom shook his head. No, a leader shouldn't have harbored such judgmental thoughts...even if the skepticism was growing every second.
Ripplestar watched in silence as Sunstripe led the she-cat to a small pile of moss with some fresh kill. He padded over, slipping in just a bit closer to the EastClan warrior so that he could get a private word.
"Sunstripe," he murmured quietly so that only the warrior could hear; hopefully the young she-cat wouldn't hear. "If it isn't too much trouble, just for today, I want you to stay near the apprentice. Just as a precaution."