|"I cannot help you. To become a sharpclaw, you must guide yourself through these tunnels and find your own way out. I can only send you on your way with the blessing of our ancestors."|
|— Rock to Fallen Leaves about the tunnels in Dark River, page 216|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter fourteen of Dark River. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 14 (of 21)
- Page Numbers: 205-221
- Rain patters onto Jaypaw's pelt as he crosses the clearing, a bundle of watermint and juniper berries in his jaws. Millie trots beside him and they stop beneath Highledge, where Graystripe is groaning because he ate too much. Jaypaw drops the bundle, resting on paw on the gray warriors rounded belly as he fidgets in pain. He tells Graystripe to keep still, mewing he just gave himself gas. Millie meows she told him so. Jaypaw rolls the juniper berries to Graystripe's muzzle, telling him they'll help, and once he's finished to eat the watermint. Millie scolds Graystripe and he pleads for her to not go on, and she laps her tongue on his pelt. Jaypaw feels her affection for her mate like warm air around him. His whiskers twitch with amusement, thinking it's funny that a warrior is being lectured by a kittypet. He quickly reminds himself Millie is a warrior now. Paw steps hurry into camp and Jaypaw scents Mousepaw and Poppypaw. Poppypaw calls if he's seen Hollypaw as she bounds towards Higeledge. Jaypaw feels her anxious gaze burning his pelt, it darts away awkwardness pricking from her, and she corrects herself, saying she means if he heard or scented her. Mousepaw's mew chips in, saying she means if he knows where she is.
- Jaypaw's pads tingle as he realizes he hasn't seen his sister all morning and he lets his awareness spread out around camp, feeling for her presence, but finds no sense of her in or near the camp, and he shakes his head. Graystripe scrambles to his paws, demanding how long she has been missing for. Poppypaw answers that she was supposed to be training with them, but she never showed. Mousepaw meows that Brackenfur figured she'd been kept in camp for some reason, so they just decided to train without her, they thought she'd be here when they got back. Poppypaw mews shrilly that she's not. Brackenfur comes bounding in from the thorn tunnel, asking if she's not here. Spiderleg and Ashfur are on his heels, Ashfur reporting that her scent is in the tunnel, but it's stale. Brackenfur guesses she must have left camp when he told her to, and Spiderleg concludes she didn't make it to the training hollow. Jaypaw feels the interest of his Clanmates pricking around the clearing. Brightheart hurries over, suggesting she might be hurt. Sorreltail calls, wondering who is hurt. Graystripe explains no one is hurt, but Hollypaw seems to be missing. Jaypaw starts to get squashed by the warriors crowding around him, and Thornclaw and Whitewing join in. Thornclaw suggests WindClan may have captured her and alarm flashes from the warriors and apprentices. Cloudtail pushes his way to the front, asking why they would do that. Brook wonders if WindClan has ever taken hostages before. Dustpelt mews no, but they've never hunted squirrels before either. Sorreltail gasps, hoping they don't hurt her.
- Jaypaw feels torn between alarm and irritation, thinking everyone is panicking too quickly. Only Brook remains calm as she meows it wouldn't make sense for WindClan to give themselves an extra mouth to feed. Brightheart points out they have extra prey now that they hunt in the forest. Sorreltail's voice is taut with worry as she mews they might think it's worth it. Thornclaw announces they should send a patrol to rescue her. Brambleclaw joins in, wondering who needs rescuing. Jaypaw feels relief wash his pelt as he senses Squirrelflight at his fathers side, and she licks him between the ears, asking what's going on. Jaypaw answers that Hollypaw is missing, and Squirrelflight stiffens, wondering since when. Brackenfur explains he spoke to her midday, she was supposed to come training but she never arrived. Brightheart mews WindClan must have captured her. Brambleclaw asks if they know that for sure, and no one answers. He urges them that they shouldn't assume the worst, and Squirrelflight meows that knowing Hollypaw, she probably just went off by herself. Jaypaw nods, knowing Hollypaw wandered off when she needed time to think. Sorreltail fretfully asks if she would deliberately miss training. Firestar's mew sounds from above them on Highledge, saying she's never missed it before, and the cats shuffle back to look up at him. Jaypaw is relieved to have some space but he can feel the anxiety and guilt flooding from Firestar, and he wonders what the leader has to feel guilty about. Firestar goes on that they can't just assume WindClan have taken her. Thornclaw protests that they know WindClan wants to attack them, this might be their way of provoking a battle, and worried mews ripple through the Clan.
- Firestar reasons that they don't know for sure, and mews that like Squirrelflight had pointed out, Hollypaw is perfectly capable going off by herself, she's always been independent, and he reminds the Clan how she went fox-hunting when she was only a kit. Firestar's mew is light, but Jaypaw senses his leaders thoughts churning. Meanwhile, the Clans ruffled fur begins to smooth. But Jaypaw isn't convinced Hollypaw would just disappear for a day and is sure Firestar knows more than he is letting on. He tries probing the leaders thoughts, but a fretful cloud obscures any clear thoughts, and Jaypaw considers asking him outright, but quickly shrugs the idea away, thinking Firestar clearly wanted to keep it to himself.
- Jaypaw slips past Brook and Brightheart, heading for the medicine den. As he nears it, the brambles at the entrance rustle and Leafpool darts inside. He pads into the cave, a little taken aback buy the wave of emotion flooding from his mentors pelt. Cinderpaw anxiously asks if it's true Hollypaw has disappeared. Jaypaw sooths her, saying she knows Hollypaw, probably gone off to think. Cinderpaw's nest rustles beneath her as she settles back down, but Jaypaw can sense tension in her muscles. Across the den, alarm pulses even more fiercly from Leafpool and he asks her what's the matter, hurrying to her side and focusing on her thought, finding her mind chaotic with worry and guilt, just like Firestar's had been just a moment before. Leafpool quietly admits she spoke to Hollypaw before she left camp eariler, and Jaypaw pricks his ears, asking if she said where she was going. Leafpool says no, but she knew she'd been upset, she'd just asked Firestar to help RiverClan. Jaypaw guesses he said no, remembering how Firestar reacted in his dream. Leafpool meows she couldn't possibly believe she could help RiverClan by herself. Jaypaw agrees that Hollypaw wouldn't be that mouse-brained. Leafpool goes on, reluctantly meowing that maybe she thought that if she couldn't reason with Firestar, she might be able to convince Onestar not to fight. A dark pit seems to open up in Jaypaw's stomach.
- He feels Leafpool's paws pressing against his, meowing that he must try to dream, he has to find out where she is. Her urgent plea sets his fur bristling with indignation. Not so long ago she'd begged him to keep his dreams a secret, and now she wanted him to use them to find Hollypaw. Jaypaw objects that he's not tired, he can't just dream when he likes. Leafpool continues to beg him to just close his eyes and try. He snaps that he'll dream when he's ready and pads toward the entrance, then feels Leafpool's pelt brush against his and realizes she's blocking his way. She hisses he has to try now. Jaypaw's pelt bristles, meowing she probably just went off on her own for a bit, and he wonders what is wrong with Leafpool, thinking she sounds more worried than Squirrelflight. Cinderpaw's nest rustles as she asks if something is worng. Leafpool turns and reassures her to not worry and rest her leg. Jaypaw thinks all she cares about is her precious patient and rage burns his ears as he pushes past her and stamps out of the den.
- The camp is calmer now, and Firestar is talking to Brambleclaw and Squirrelflight, and he tells them the sunset patrol can keep an eye open for any trace of her and they'll see what they report and send out a search party. Squirrelflight mews she wants to be on the sunset patrol at once. Brambleclaw adds and the search party. Firestar agrees that they can lead them both. Jaypaw lets his rufled fur relax, thinking a search party is much more reasonable than Leafpool's plea for dreams. He wants to get away from her and from everyone and begins squeezing through the thorn tunnel. Squirrelflight asks where he's going, anxiety pricking from her pelt, and he answers for a walk. Squirrelflight tells him to not be long, and Jaypaw thinks to himself that he'll take as long as he likes as he heads into the trees. He finds his paws heading up the slope toward the lake and he sniffs eagerly at the scent of the open water, quickening his pace as he tops the ridge and heads down and out of the trees. The route he takes will take him straight to where he left the branch and he begins to hurry, whiskers twitching as he follows the path. Jaypaw scrambles down onto the beach and pauses, trying to figure out where he is since the ground there seems to change so often, and he loves the challenge of the shore, as long as he could steer clear of the water. He pads cautiously forward, muzzle outstretched, sniffing for driftwood or rubbish that may trip him, but his mind is fixed on the stick, hopefully still tucked safely under the tree root. He weaves his way toward it, his heart beating faster as he nears it. He reaches out with a paw, relieved it is still there and happily drags it out and runs his paws over it, welcoming the ripples as his pads bumped over the scratches.
- The murmuring of the waves and wind drifts away and Jaypaw is only aware of the stick beneath his pads and the sharp etches cut into it. A voice breaths in his ear, husky like the voice of an old cat, too soft too hear clearly, but it seems to be listing names. Jaypaw's heart quickens as his paw nears the end of the branch to where the uncrossed scratches lie and his belly tightens. He strains to hear the voice, but when his paw touches the first uncrossed mark, the voice chokes and falls silent. Disappointed, Jaypaw lies down beside the scent and rests his cheek on the smooth wood, closing his eyes and begins to dream.
- Sandy earth shifts beneath his paws and he blinks open his eyes to see a wall of jagged rock looming ahead of him. Rolling heather ripples in the wind behind him, the sky overhead is black and studded with stars. At the top of the rock wall, he sees cats silhouetted against the night sky, none of them looking familiar and when he sniffs the air, Jaypaw recognized only the scent only from those he had smelled at the Moonpool. Suddenly one cat broke away from the others, bounding down the steep slope, a young tom with muscular shoulders beneath a sleek ginger-and-white pelt. A she-cat scrambles after him, while the others remain at the top, flicking their tails nervously. The she-cat calls to the tom to take care as she lands lightly on the sand. The tom brushes muzzles with her, promising to see her at dawn, then turns to face the cliff and for the first time Jaypaw realizes there's a crack in the rock behind him. The tom pads toward it and Jaypaw tries to step out of the way, but the tom steps right through him. As their spirits cross, he feels a shudder of foreboding. The tom had never entered the rock before and he is frightened. Jaypaw's belly flutters with excitement and he quickly slips in after the tom.
- Darkness swallows him and for a moment he wonders if he has woken up and is blind once more, but then he hears the soft pad of the toms paws up ahead and Jaypaw senses space opening into the hillside, a narrow passageway leading straight into the rock. Fear spikes the air, yet determination ripples from the toms pelt too. Pale light glows overhead, streaming through a small gap in the roof. The arching walls are filled with more openings, the tunnels spreading out like roots beneath the moor. Rushing water echoes around the rocks and to his surprise, Jaypaw sees a river cutting through the cave, flowing away into another tunnel. Jaypaw jerks his head up at the voice of an old cat calling the name Fallen Leaves from a high ledge near the moonlit gap. The tom jumps and the old cat croaks he can feel his surprise. Jaypaw stares at the ancient cat. Its pelt is nothing but a few tufts of fur, its eyes are white and bulging, staring sightlessly down and Jaypaw hopes his eyes don't look like that.
- Jaypaw can sense understanding and recognition between the two cats and he knows the young tom - Fallen Leaves, knew this cat would be here but hadn't been expecting him to be so ugly. The old cat runs a paw over the sooth and pale surface of a stick, and Jaypaw stiffens as he realizes it's his stick. He strains to hear the old cat as he says he must stay close to their warrior ancestors; those who have taken their place beneath the earth, and Fallen Leaves says they thank him for it, and the old cat growls to not thank him, it was a destiny he was bound to follow. He adds that Fallen Leaves may not feel so grateful to him once his initiation has begun, and runs a claw over the lines scratched into the branch. Fear pulses from Fallen Leaves and sweeps Jaypaw like an icy wind and he wonders what he's so afraid of, looking back up at the ledge. The old cat is shaking his head, saying he cannot help him, to become a sharpclaw he must guide himself through the tunnels and find his own way out, he can only send him on his way with a blessing from their ancestors. Jaypaw wonders if a sharpclaw is like a warrior, then understands the young cats fear and determination.
- The old cat suddenly asks if it is raining and Fallen Leaves stiffens as he tells him the sky is clear, but Jaypaw senses a flicker of doubt in his mind. The old cat runs his claws once more over the lines of the branch and tells him to begin. Fallen Leaves leaps across the river and heads for the tunnel that opens beneath the old cats ledge. Jaypaw bounds after him, relieved that he can see, not wanting to jump across the river blind. He follows Fallen Leaves through the darkness and Jaypaw feels the realization cross his mind that the tunnel leads up, almost as clear as if he said it out loud. The tunnel wounds upward, narrowing, then widening, turning first one way, then the other. Jaypaw's breath quickens. He can barely believe he is walking with an ancient Clan cat, watching him cross the border from kithood to cathood. A puddle of moonlight splashes the floor ahead of them and Fallen Leaves dashes through it, glancing up. Jaypaw follows and sees a narrow gap above them, too high to reach. Suddenly, the tunnel narrows and slopes downward. Doubt bristles in Fallen Leaves pelt, but Jaypaw senses him push it away. The tunnel twists and Fallen Leaves's pelt brushes the wall as he swerves to follow the snaking passage. Jaypaw is impressed how the cat copes with the darkness, much better than any ThunderClan cats would. The slope continues downward and Fallen Leaves halts and Jaypaw senses his uncertainty. The tunnel splits ahead and the ginger-and-white tom pads slowly to one, then backs up. Jaypaw feels the toms tail slide through his formless body, and jerks as it sends a jolt of doubt like lightning through his fur. He scrabbles backward, knowing the young tom is losing his nerve.
- Fallen Leaves darts forward, hurrying once more, he has chosen the other tunnel, though it slopes downward. Jaypaw can smell heather and hope flashes in his chest. He sees another pool of moonlight flood from the tunnel in front of them and Fallen Leaves quickens his pace and Jaypaw feels hope flare from him, then plumments once he reaches it. The hole is wide, but a long way out of reach and in the shaft of moonlight, raindrops flicker, spattering down into the tunnel. Alarm blazes from Fallen Leaves's pelt and he shoots onward, moving faster, bumping into the sides of the tunnel more often in his desperation. Jaypaw skids as he follow him around a sharp bend. The tunnel floor is growing slippery with raindrops and continues to grow wetter and wetter, and rain drips faster through each hole they pass. Suddenly, Fallen Leaves skids to a halt as the tunnel stops at a smooth gray wall and spins around, racing through Jaypaw. Fallen Leaves is struggling to keep his terror under control, he races away, veering down an opening in the side of the tunnel and Jaypaw's claws skitter over the floor as he turns and pelts after him. The tunnel dips sharply and Jaypaw gasps as water laps his paws. He follows Fallen Leaves as the tunnel begins to slope upward, but the water still comes, rushing down the passage, washing against Jaypaw's belly.
- Fallen Leaves swerves through a new opening, it's narrower than the other tunnels and the walls press in on either side, a hole lets in a glimmer of light, but it's too far to climb. He skids to a halt. Jaypaw can smell peaty water and hear is sloshing ahead, he peers through the darkness to see Fallen Leaves recoiling, his forepaws engulfed. The tunnel takes a sharp downward slope in front of them and disappears into water so deep it laps the roof. Jaypaw turns around even before Fallen Leaves begins to double back. Fallen Leaves runs faster, clearly remembering the route, pulling past Jaypaw and taking the lead. Jaypaw prays to StarClan for them to find a way out and blood pounds in his ears, and unbridled terror pulses from Fallen Leaves. Jaypaw hears roaring, wind surges behind him, tugging his fur as it sweeps over him, and he glances over his shoulder to see water skidding around them, splashing around the walls and roof. Fallen Leaves glances backwards too, his eyes shining with terror, and for the first time he seems to see Jaypaw and cries out save me. As Fallen Leaves cries, water lifts Jaypaw, engulfed him so that he is tossed and swirled by cold waves. Water fills his ears, eyes, mouth, and he struggles against it, not knowing which way is up, too lost in the darkness and drowning. His sight fades, his ears roar, and he lets his body go limp.
- Jaypaw blinks open his eyes, gulping for air, leaping away from the branch. Rain is pelting down, drenching his fur and waves pound the shore, driven across the lake by ferice wind. He wants to go home, back to shelter in camp. He remembers Fallen Leaves and gingerly reaches out for the branch, feeling for the last uncrossed mark and now he knows what it means. Fallen Leaves had gone into the tunnels and never came out.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Revealed in Dark River, page 205
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 214
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Revealed in Dark River, page 206
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Revealed in Dark River, page 207
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 208
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 209
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 210
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 215
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 211
|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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