*facepalm* why does everything turn into shipping... well at least ghost doesn't read this fic. Nay a tiny bit aye but no one cares so hehe
Up In Smoke: Chapter Sixteen
It had been kind of awkward for the past few days. Both Thistledusk and Duskfire had to stay in the medicine den to recover briefly, but they were almost all better now. Whenever Sandpaw went to visit Duskfire (only a few times, her stand-in mentor Brindlepad kept her busy), Thistledusk would fix his iron glare on her, which would burn with the fury of a million forest fires until she excused herself from the den.
Sandpaw was hauling new brambles into camp to patch a hole in the elders' den, huffing as she sank her teeth into the plant and dragged it across the camp floor, picking up dirt and dead leaves as it went. Suddenly, she saw Vixenstar climb slowly up onto the Tallrock, huffing with the effort. Dropping the briars, she looked up at her leader, flicking a clump of snow off one ear.
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Tallrock for a Clan meeting!" Cloverspark poked her head out of the nursery, looking harried, and her week-old kits, Shellkit and Swankit, tumbled out past her paws. Flintriver rushed over to them, purring and licking his mate on the ear before turning his attention to the kits, firmly instructing them to sit still while the leader spoke. "Today, we take back the territory SunClan stole from us!" she yowled. Vixenstar is a good leader, even if she isn't very able-bodied. The camp went up in cheers. "I will not be going. Sageriver will lead the cats to mark the new border. If SunClan is determined to fight for it, we will fight. The patrol that will mark the border will be Sageriver, Brindlepad, Sandpaw, Flintriver, and Willownose. I want two patrols in the woods in case it turns to violence. Mothshadow will lead one and take Jaggedsight, Fireflower, Blossomleap, Littlebrook and Rookpaw. The second patrol will be led by Sprucegaze, and he will take Quailfeather, Chestnutleap, Kestrelmist, Bouldershade and Maplepaw. Leopardspots will accompany Mothshadow and Lilypaw will go with Sprucegaze. Organize yourselves and Sageriver will lead you out of camp."
My first battle! Sandpaw's heart was fluttering. Well, not really a battle, but it could be one! Her tail waved excitedly, but she felt very nervous. It probably wouldn't come to that, she convinced herself. They would just mark the border and leave.
She stayed very close to Brindlepad's side, the snowy forest seeming foreign, strange and spooky to her everywhere she looked. A bird twittered loudly in a tree next to her, and she nearly leaped into the air from jitters. Shaking her head, she stared at the white powder below her feet, playing a small game of stepping into Willownose's pawprints every time she moved her feet. Suddenly, Sageriver stopped, and she stepped on the deputy's tail. The white she-cat glared back at Sandpaw, and she shrank back, but Sageriver just turned around.
"We're entering current SunClan territory. Be careful," Brindlepad warned, and they stepped over the border, beginning to mark it.
Sandpaw shook her head. It felt like the trees were whispering to her, danger, danger. She kept her head down and marked the border. The cats began to spread out, fanning along the new border to mark every inch of it.
Suddenly, she heard pawsteps, and a pair of luminous green eyes glared into hers. It was Driftpaw.
"Hi..." she said nervously, backing away.
"You're on SunClan territory again. And it doesn't look like a mistake," he hissed. Why is he so menacing? I thought we were friends! "Get out of here before it's too late."
"And leave my Clanmates? Never!" she growled defiantly.
"Get ready for battle," he snarled. Sandpaw caught a glimpse of at least three cats in the shadows behind Driftpaw, glaring intently at the foreign apprentice. Then, he leaped at her with unsheathed claws. As she ducked out of the way, Sandpaw let out a loud screech, not of fear, but to warn her Clan. There must have been another huge battle patrol on the other side of the border. Driftpaw faced her, and they circled once with narrowed eyes, then Sandpaw leaped first, slashing Driftpaw's chest. He stumbled back, stunned, and she took the opportunity to whirl and kick out, catching him on the chin with a hard blow. Shaking his head to clear it, he snarled, leaping again with renewed vigor. His claws raked down Sandpaw's shoulder, and she cried out in pain at the stinging feeling. I can't lose this fight. She tried to tackle him, but he leaped out of the way messily, getting a hit off on the side of her neck. With another loud yowl, hoping to alert her Clanmates, she crouched down. He watched her, uncertain, and glanced away for a moment. She leaped, tackling him with a surprised yell from him, and pinned him. The male apprentice writhed under her paws, and she placed a paw on his throat, pressing the back of his neck into the snowy ground. He coughed and tried to push her off, but to no avail.
"Do you surrender?" she hissed, fur along her back spiked straight up in fear.
"Y-yes," he choked, and she dug her claws into his throat for good measure. It wasn't enough to seriously injure him- like Featherblaze- but enough to hurt him and scare him so he wouldn't get up and fight her again. She let him up and he scrambled back to his patrol, bleeding. She heard some cat scold him, but she dashed away before any of the grown warriors could fight her.
When she finally got back to where they had started, the two patrols that had been hidden in the woods were now out and fighting what looked like all of SunClan. Seedfoot and Sageriver were intently fighting, eyes locked as they fought. Rookpaw was trying to hide behind Littlebrook, but an older cream-colored she-cat leaped at him, pinning him to the ground. Out of breath, Sandpaw ducked behind a tree until she could breathe easily. The she-cat was slashing at Rookpaw's face, asking if he would surrender yet, but he kept defiantly yelling "No!" and every time he did, she hurt him. Sandpaw leaped, slamming into the she-cat and knocking her off Rookpaw. Her friends scrambled off the ground, breathing a thank you, and helped her. Together, with well-timed blows, they drove the other apprentice back; that was, until another apprentice jumped into the fray, a light brown she-cat that looked as if she could be the first cat's sister.
"Thanks, Brookpaw!" the first cat called.
"I'm always here for you, Rosepaw." Brookpaw grinned, leaping for Sandpaw. With an embarrassing squeak, she dove away, barely escaping. She faced the larger apprentice with her heart pounding like a monster on the Thunderpath. Rosepaw was quickly overpowering Rookpaw again. Suddenly, an orange blur streaked in front of Sandpaw's face, and next thing she knew, Brookpaw was screaming like the wind in a hurricane and dashing away. Rosepaw quickly got slashed down the side and ran after her sister. Fireflower smiled at the two StreamClan apprentices.
"Thanks, Fireflower!" said Rookpaw enthusiastically.
"SunClan, retreat!" came the yowl from Seedfoot, leaving Sageriver staggering there. Leopardspots and Lilypaw were up instantly, weaving around the cats.
Sandpaw sank to the ground, tired out. All she wanted to do was close her eyes and sleep.