His ears flattened. His dark green eyes narrowed. His fur bristled. Thunderpaw stepped away from the EastClan territory, and began to head back into NorthClan land along with Skypaw. "That was close," he meowed. "We wouldn't want to have gone in there. They would have torn our fur off." He shuddered.
The apprentices had their assumptions of EastClan, who had been vilified in their minds by the adults around them. They were fighting against EastClan, which must mean that EastClan had done something wrong. They had kept Freezecloud as prisoner, after all. That was a good enough reason to go to war as it was.
She nodded in agreement, expressing the same sentiments that he had about the EastClan warriors. They walked back together into NorthClan territory, far away from the border on the edge of EastClan. "I don't want to be their prisoner," she meowed. "We should ask Freezecloud sometime how they treated her. I'll bet it wasn't any good."
She hopped onto a large boulder and looked off towards the mountains, which rose above the foothills that NorthClan lived in. She'd heard many stories about the mountains being mysterious and strange, but she'd never been up in them herself. NorthClan cats only descended so much into the mountains, but they feared the sheer cliffs and strange happenings.
Thunderpaw nodded. He couldn't imagine being kept by another Clan. Freezecloud must have been so brave. No wonder she'd earned her warrior name for the whole thing. He sat down on the flat grass of the rolling hills of NorthClan, and he watched Skypaw for a moment. He wanted to talk to her, about something or anything at all, but he couldn't bring to mind any topic he thought might interest her. "So what do you think the cats from other clans do in their spare time?" he asked. He was sometimes curious. Did they even have the same traditions that NorthClan had?
She tilted her head. She wasn't quite sure, she'd never even seen a cat from another Clan save for Sunstripe who was briefly captured in NorthClan territory. "I don't know. Maybe they do the same things we do?" she suggested. "Or maybe they're really different... I'm not sure. I mean, I heard that they're different in lots of ways, but I don't know what they do differently." She looked around, trying to figure out what to say on the subject. "What do you think?"
He thought about it deeply for a moment. "I think that they're different than us, but they obviously still have all the same ranks," he meowed. Only two cats were permitted to go to the gatherings, and he had never been to one, but he knew that there were leaders, warriors, and medicine cats among other things that were shared in commmon. "I'll bet they train a lot differently."
Thunderpaw had also noticed that cats from different parts of the territories tended to act and speak slightly differently, but it was mostly in subtle ways. "I'll bet SouthClan plays a lot of hide and go seek in their forests."
She was intrigued by the speculation, though she didn't think that the other clans could possibly do anything too different from what NorthClan did. She nodded at his points. NorthClan cats couldn't really play hide and seek that well, except maybe behind scattered boulders or in caves. Skypaw licked her paw. "That's probably true," she meowed. "So, what do you want to do now?" She looked towards the camp. "We should probably be headed back. I'm sure we'll be expected to fight in the battle."
At the mention of actually possibly having to fight in a war, Thunderpaw grew frightened. He hadn't thought that he may actually required to fight alongside of the NorthClan warriors. He swallowed. Scatterstar had used an apprentice as a spy to EastClan, so it was just as likely that he would expect his apprentices to fight.
He tried not to let Skypaw notice that he was feeling so unconfident. "I guess we should be getting back," he squeaked. Uh oh I'll bet she heard that. He winced. He looked at Skypaw. The last thing he wanted was to taint her opinion of him, whatever that may be.
She knew right away something was wrong, she could see it in his eyes. This battle must be making him nervous. It's making me nervous too. The black and white she cat walked towards him, but she tripped over her paws while she was doing so. She looked away shyly, chiding herself for her own clumsiness.
"I'm sorry about that," she whispered. "But if you're scared about the battle, you could just tell me. I'm just as scared at the next cat about it. We're only apprentices."
He looked down at his paws, ashamed that he had been figured out so easily. "Do you think Scatterstar will really make us fight as much as the warriors?" It was only a moon or so ago that he had been a kit. He hadn't expected to be thrown into a battle that could cost him his life at such a young age.
He didn't even know why he had to think about these sorts of things. He was only a young apprentice, and it was starting to weigh heavily on him that he really might have to give up his life for the sake of the Clan.
Her ears flicked back and she frowned, looking down to the side. "I don't know," she replied. She was now just as concerned as he was. Scatterstar wouldn't do that, would he? Maybe he would make us reinforcements, but he would never send his apprentices to the frontlines! If he did, he could risk the very future of the Clan itself.
Of course the battle was already a gamble, and the clan was in danger just for it already. She was growing more doubtful about the whole affair, but the leader's word was law.
He looked sad. "We should head back to camp I guess anyway," he meowed. "We could ask there what we're supposed to do during the battle." He got up and headed back towards the camp, his whiskers and tail drooping. Thunderpaw barely said a word to Skypaw on his way home, and didn't really wait up for her. He didn't want to be as a rude as he was being but he was feeling depressed.
He looked back briefly and then continued on. I could die in this battle, he thought. What would my mom think? She'd be so upset.
Skypaw traveled along behind, now also concerned as much as Thunderpaw was. She wanted to say something to him to give him some comfort, but she couldn't think of anything. She looked just as sad as he did on their way back to camp. She didn't want to fight in the battle. She didn't want him to have to either.
"Thunderpaw, we should run away," she meowed. She could hardly believe she would say what she said, but she did. "We should leave until after the battle and then come back. No one will miss us if we do."
Thunderpaw was shocked at the suggestion. He had never thought of running away before, and deserting his Clan, but somehow it all made sense. Maybe in all the confusion and chaos, they wouldn't even be missed. He knew it meant abandoning his family and everyone he knew, but he just didn't think he was ready to lose his life.
"I - I think that's a good idea," he stammered. "But where will we go?" They couldn't go to another Clan's territory, and all the safe places were days away from where they lived in the foothills.
Skypaw had only heard of one place that they could go, and she'd heard the warriors talk about it. The warriors had heard tell from passing rogues and loners about a place called Shelter Island near the ocean. Her tail swished. Could they really make such a long journey?
"I know of a place," she meowed. "We could be safe there during the war, but it's a long ways away." She looked towards the distance. "But we could do it. We could walk until our paws are sore, but it will mean that we'll survive. What do you say?"
Thunderpaw took a moment to seriously consider Skypaw's offer to run away. She seemed to know what she was doing, and she was older than him by a little bit. He swallowed. "Alright, let's do this," he meowed. He looked off into the distance. Getting far away from the clans would require a lot of stamina. He started up, running and hoping that Skypaw would run along side him. He had never done something this crazy before, but it felt almost right. They were too young to die. They had to find another way, and this was the only way.