|"Fear squirmed in Lionpaw's belly, not of Ashfur, but of failure. Everything had come so easily before. The idea that he might struggle to keep up filled him with dread."|
|— Lionpaw thinking about his declining warrior skills in Dark River, page 169|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter eleven of Dark River. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 11 (of 21)
- Page Numbers: 162-174
- Ashfur is angry with Lionpaw for barely missing a wagtail. The bird now perches on a branch above the hollow and calls an alarm before flying away, and Lionpaw hangs his head, apologizing. He is exhausted after the previous night's trek to the beach with Jaypaw. Lionpaw is irritated that his brother had dragged him out to the lake, when he had left Heatherpaw early to get some rest. Ashfur scolds that Lionpaw is clumsy today, and Mousepaw, who comes out of the ferns with Spiderleg, Sandstorm, and Honeypaw, teases Lionpaw. The tabby apprentice glares back at his denmate. Honeypaw reminds Mousepaw that he also missed a Squirrel recently, but Lionpaw is embarrassed that Honeypaw is defending him, and thinks that he doesn’t need her to. Spiderpaw agrees and nudges his apprentice's shoulder, adding that his climbing needs improvement. Mousepaw flattens his ears and suggests practicing, and as the two head for the trees, Honeypaw calls out that he should not try the Sky Oak, causing Mousepaw's tail to quiver with annoyance.
- Sandstorm tells Honeypaw to come hunt mice around the old beech, and Ashfur asks if they can come too, adding that they probably won't find much birds now. Sandstorm agrees and bounds up the slop into the trees, Ashfur hurrying after her. Honeypaw whispers to Lionpaw that she missed a sparrow yesterday, but he snorts and hurries ahead of her, bristling.
- Empty beech husks are scattered on the ground, and Lionpaw pushes ahead of Honeypaw into the ferns that edge the ground beneath the tree. The warriors are already waiting beneath the fronds. Ashfur hopes to actually catch something, and Lionpaw snaps back that they will, irritated at his mentor's criticism and lack of feedback. Honeypaw points out a mouse that nibbles a nut between the roots of the beech. She encouragingly blinks at Lionpaw and notes that it will easy to catch, although he hisses that she should catch it then. Her eyes cloud, thinking that he would have wanted the change, and when Lionpaw snaps that he doesn't need help, he feels guilty as Honeypaw drops her gaze. He realizes that she was only trying to help and peers through the undergrowth, deciding to catch the mouse as an apology. However, it is gone.
- A few tail-lengths away, something else stirs the leaves, and Lionpaw drops into a hunting crouch and wills his weariness to go away as he creeps forward. A tiny nose peeks out from the leaves, and Lionpaw tenses, preparing to leap. Ashfur tells his apprentice to keep his tail down, and Lionpaw does so before darting forward, although not fast enough. The vole scuttles beneath a root, and Lionpaw glances at Ashfur, expecting some sort of comment, but the warrior just turns away wordlessly.
- When Ashfur and Lionpaw enter the camp, Brambleclaw narrows his eyes as he watches the warrior deposit three pieces of prey, and Lionpaw none. Brambleclaw approaches, asking if there is still prey, and Ashfur responds that there certainly is. Although Lionpaw expects Ashfur to tell Brambleclaw of his clumsiness, he is surprised when his mentor comments that he is doing well, but needs a better crouch. Lionpaw frets if Ashfur is being dishonest because he has given up on him. Brambleclaw cuffs his son softly around the ear, and says that he thought he had mastered his hunting crouch before leaving the nursery.
- Lionpaw is irritated that nobody mentions that he has recently been struggling, and wonders why they don't take his training seriously. He glances at Brmableclaw, but the deputy has already walked away. Ashfur suggests that Liopnaw eats something, and when he asks about training, his mentor tells him that they will battle train after he rests. Lionpaw believes that Ashfur has truly given up on him, and wonders if his mentor thinks it is useless to train him. He heads for the apprentices den, tired, and nestles into his nest without eating.
- Berrypaw tells Lionpaw that it is time for battle training, waking him up. Lionpaw struggles awake and Berrypaw shakes his shoulder with his paw, which Lionpaw protests to. He wearily gets to his paws, noting that his nap only made him more tired. Berrypaw explains that Ashfur and Brambleclaw will have them do battle training together, but Lionpaw sighs. Berrypaw leans forward and asks what the matter is, as Lionpaw is usually eager to try to beat him. His whiskers twitch and he asks if he is scared. Lionpaw exclaims that he isn’t, thinking that he only wants to sleep.
- Lionpaw stumbles out of the den after Berrypaw; Ashfur and Brambleclaw wait by the camp entrance, nodding and leaving camp as they spot Lionpaw. The apprentice wishes that they would slow down, and he hurriedly stumbles through the forest, still very sleepy. He clumsily enters the mossy training hollow where the other cats are waiting. Lionpaw stretches his claws and joins them, but although he shakes himself to wake up, his mind is still numb.
- Brambleclaw starts by telling Berrypaw to pretend he is defending territory. The deputy flicks his tail and orders Lionpaw to attack him. Berrypaw crouches, bristling, and teases Lionpaw. Lionpaw is angered and, without thinking, flings himself at his denmate, although Brerrypaw catches him under the chin, flinging him backwards and springing on top of him, pinning to the ground. Berrypaw looks at his mentor and exclaims that it was easy. At Berrypaw’s divided attention, Lionpaw darts out from underneath him and butts his flank, but Berrypaw simply swipes Lionpaw with a forepaw, which he hardly manages to duck. He is still very tired and dives under Berrypaw’s belly, hoping to leap up and unbalance him, but Berrypaw is heavier, and drops on top of him, squashing him. Lionpaw goes limp, aware that his every move had been poor. Berrypaw steps off Lionpaw and sits beside Brambleclaw, curling his tail over his paws.
- Ashfur asks Lionpaw if that was his best, and Lionpaw springs up, suddenly awake and angered, exclaiming that his mentor taught him the wrong moves. Brambleclaw’s eyes flash with shock, but Ashfur’s remain calm, asking if anyone would believe he taught him the clumsy display. Lionpaw bites back that it would have been the first thing he taught him that day, causing his mentor’s eyes to blaze. Brambleclaw chides his son that a warrior never blames his Clanmates to his own mistakes, then tells Ashfur to speak with his apprentice. The deputy and his apprentice go to the other side of the clearing to continue training. Lionpaw’s anger suddenly fades and he apologizes, although his mentor glares at him. Ashfur growls that despite his efforts to make him the best apprentice, he has lately been very lazy, and his once-great warrior instincts have gone. Loinpaw’s whiskers tremble, conscious that he has lately been distracted, though he was unaware that others noticed. He promises to try harder, and Ashfur presses that he must if he doesn’t want Icekit and Foxkit becoming warriors before him. Lionpaw exclaims that he will, afraid at the thought of failure. Ashfur nods and says to start again, with the badger defense. Lionpaw protests that that’s one of the hardest, and Ashfur replies that he knows. He crouches, rears up and leaps forward high enough to clear a badger’s back, before landing without dropping onto his forepaws and spinning around extremely quickly, then ducking down back onto four paws, and twisting to the side, snapping his jaws. He orders his apprentice to do it, reminding him that since a badger is very big, he must leap very high.
- Heart pounding, Lionpaw rears up and tries leaping, but loses his balance and falls to one side. His mentor demands that he tries again, and as Lionpaw tries once more, he leaps, but topples over and falls onto four paws again. Ashfur suggests putting more power into his jump through his hindlegs, and when Lionpaw protests that he loses his balance, his mentor demands that he keeps trying.
- Brambleclaw asks Ashfur for help to do a double attack on Berrypaw, causing Lionpaw to be jealous. Ashfur tells Lionpaw to keep practicing, then bounds away toward the deputy. Lionpaw feels despaired, wondering why Ashfur would assign something so difficult. He tries again but can’t even start correctly and is frustrated and disheartened, thinking he will never get it. A voice says that he will, and a pelt nudges him so roughly that he is sent sprawling over the ground. Lionpaw gets up, beginning a question, when he breaks off, realizing that Brambleclaw, Ashfur and Berrypaw are still at the other side of the clearing. He wonders who pushed him. The voice growls to keep his eyes fixed on something in front of him to keep balance, and Lionpaw is alarmed, till he sees a hazy outline, and realizes it is Tigerstar. Lionpaw looks at his Clanmates, privately wondering if they see him, although Tigerstar answers that only he can see him. Lionpaw asks why he is there and shivers, and Tigerstar narrows his eyes, saying that he will give Lionpaw necessary help, causing Lionpaw to feel shameful. Tigerstar crouches in front of him, posing as the badger, and Lionpaw frowns, wondering how he could tackle a hardly visible cat. Tigerstar commands him to try, and keep his eyes on something solid too.
- Lionpaw takes a deep breath and stares at a birch at the edge of the clearing, then, concentrating hard, successfully rears onto his hind legs; tenses; springs over Tigerstar, landing behind him; and turns, though he begins to fall. The massive tabby tom quickly pushes him up so he can complete the turn and Lionpaw regains his balance, ducks, and twists to bite Tigerstar’s hind leg. Tigerstar darts away, musing that it isn’t bad, but he won’t always prop him up. Lionpaw thinks that he at least improved, and goes back to his starting place. He is tense everywhere as leaps forward and lands perfectly, baring his teeth to nip Tigerstar’s leg, though the warrior is already up and pacing. He growls that that is better, but he should slash out with his forepaws as he spins, to scratch the badger as well as bite it.
- Lionpaw is excited and suggests trying it. He flawlessly does it the first time. Tigerstar dodges Lionpaw’s fast forepaw slash, and says it is much better. Ashfur asks Lionpaw how he is doing, causing the apprentice to jump. He guiltily spins around, and his mentor pads toward him. Lionpaw nervously glances over his shoulder, and sees that Tigerstar is gone. Ashfur narrows his eyes and asks if he has been practicing, and Lionpaw mews that he has. Ashfur demands that he shows him. Lionpaw performs the move even better than he had with Tigerstar and finishes in a perfect crouch, glancing up at Ashfur, whose eyes glow. He says that he may make a warrior and tells Brambleclaw to watch. Brambleclaw and Berrypaw bound over, and Ashfur orders the older apprentice to be the badger. Berrypaw crouches and Lionpaw rears up and leaps over him, spins, parts Berrypaw’s fur with a claw, then grazes Berrypaw’s hind leg with his teeth.
- Ashfur proudly meows that a badger wouldn’t stand a chance, although Berrypaw mews that Lionpaw could have jumped higher. The pale gray tom counters that it would slow him down and Lionpaw asks Brambleclaw how it was, desperate for his father’s opinion, as his gaze is troubled. Brambleclaw meows that it was great, and asks Ashfur if he taught the claw move. Ashfur responds that Lionpaw seemed to come up with it himself, and Brambleclaw stares at Lionpaw, asking if he did. Lionpaw guiltily nods, wondering if Brambleclaw recognized Tigerstar’s move, and asks if he liked it. Brambleclaw says that it is a nice touch and his tail strokes Lionpaw’s flank as he suggests getting back to camp.
- Brambleclaw exits the mossy clearing, and Berrypaw makes a face at Lionpaw before following his mentor. Ashfur asks Lionpaw if he is coming, and Lionpaw says he will in a moment. He wonders why Tigerstar is so interested in him, and scans the clearing after Ashfur leaves. There isn’t a single sign of Tigerstar, and Lionpaw thinks that he should be grateful at how much Tigerstar cares about his training. He whispers a thank you to Tigerstar then follows him Clanmates toward camp.
- When Ashfur and Sandstorm are waiting for Lionpaw and Honeypaw, it reads, "Ashfur and Sandstorm were waiting for them, sat beneath the arching fronds." It should read, "Ashfur and Sandstorm were waiting for them, sitting beneath the arching fronds."
Notes and references
|Dark River chapters|
|Prologue • Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10 • Chapter 11 • Chapter 12 • Chapter 13 • Chapter 14 • Chapter 15 • Chapter 16 • Chapter 17 • Chapter 18 • Chapter 19 • Chapter 20 • Chapter 21|
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