|"He padded inside, the usual eerie sense of foreboding clutching his belly. But this time is was worse. There was something he had to do, something really difficult, but he couldn't see any other way. However much it hurt..."|
|— Lionpaw on his way to meet Heatherpaw in Dark River, page 240|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter fifteen of Dark River. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 15 (of 21)
- Page Numbers: 222-242
- Lionpaw leaps and twists in the air, diving forward as he lands with his claws raking the ground. He silently asks if Tigerstar saw how well he made that turn. Tigerstar had only taught him the move that afernoon, and Lionpaw is impressed how fast he has mastered it. He sits back on his haunches, panting and sniffs the air, thinking to himself that Heatherpaw is late. The cave is dark, the moon is hidden by the rain that has been falling since sundown. Heatherpaw's mew sounds from the entrance, asking if he thought she'd forgotten about him, and Lionpaw happily leaps to his paws. Heatherpaw apologizes for being late, she caught Gorsetail's kits following her and she had to take them back to camp. Lionpaw asks if they went near the tunnel entrance, and Heatherpaw replies they didn't, but it was close, they kept themselves well hidden and she didn't spot them until it was almost too late. Lionpaw's pads prickle, wondering if their scent could have been discovered, and he confesses he almost didn't come himself, then tells her about Hollypaw's disappearance. Lionpaw begins to tell her that a search party followed her trail as far as the WindClan border but cuts himself off, not wanting Heatherpaw to know that Hollypaw might have crossed the border. Anxiety spikes his belly, and he realizes he can't be honest without feeling like a traitor to his Clan. He instead asks Heatherpaw if she's seen her.
- Heatherpaw shakes her head, and Lionpaw gazes into her eyes, asking if she's sure, to which she replies of course she is. Guilt tickles him tail and Lionpaw know Heatherpaw couldn't lie to him. Heatherpaw suspiciously asks what he's thinking about, Lionpaw lies he is just thinking about where Hollypaw could be. Heatherpaw assures him she'll be okay, winding around him, the touch of her fur soothing him. Heatherpaw then changes the topic, asking what he has been doing while he was waiting, tipping her head on one side. Lionpaw excitedly plucks the ground, answering he was practicing battle moves, then tells her to watch him as he spins around on his forepaws and leaps backwards, then rears up and rakes the air with each paw before tucking his head down and doing a neat forward roll. Heatherpaw is impressed, she pricks her ears and asks if he made it up himself. Lionpaw mews he did, knowing he couldn't tell her about Tigerstar. Heatherpaw mews it would be a perfect move for a DarkClan warrior, to teach her how to do it. Lionpaw demonstrates the move again and she copies him. He mews she nearly got it, crouching in front of her, telling her to try again but aim her paws at him this time.
- Heatherpaw flicks out her hindpaws, spins and rears at him, Lionpaw dodges as she lashes out with her paws, shouldering her away before she can dive into the roll, and she falls, sprawling onto the cave floor. Lionpaw's heart lurches, he had forgotten for a moment he is stronger than her and darts to her side, pressing his muzzle to her cheek, asking if he hurt her. Heatherpaw mews he only caught her because he knew what her next move would be, and twists away from him, giving her shoulder a lick, and adds she just hopes she'll never go into battle against him. Her eyes glow with affection as she looks as him, mewing no that she ever could. Lionpaw blinks, realizing she's staring at him expectantly and wonders if she wants him to make the same pledge, he knows he can't, not when it means being disloyal to his Clan. He glances away and mews they'll just have to hope they never have to.
- Lionpaw stretches and opens his eyes as Heatherpaw says dawn is coming. He gets to his paws, feeling his muscles protest. Teaching Heatherpaw the battle moves he'd learned from Tigerstar had been tiring. They say their farewells, planning to meet again later that night. The forest is damp and there is a light rain as Lionpaw wriggles under the brambles and heads back to camp. He halts and jerks around, fur spiking as he hears and sees the familiar outline of Hawkfrost. Hawkfrost demands what he thinks he's doing, teaching battles moves to an enemy. Lionpaw retorts that Heatherpaw isn't an enemy, she's his friend. Hawkfrost hisses that she belongs to another Clan, what if she uses the moves he taught her against him one day. Lionpaw protests that Heatherpaw would never do that, and Hawkfrost asks wouldn't she. Lionpaw stiffens, trying to imagine facing his friend in battle. The golden tabby mews he thought Tigerstar and him didn't care about him seeing Heatherpaw. Hakwfrost growls they liked his independence, they assumed it was a harmless kit friendship. Lionpaw bristles, arguing that it is harmless, but it's not a kit friendship, it's more than that, that's why he knows she'd never use the battles move against him.
- Hawkfrost snarls that he's a mouse-brain, he thought Lionpaw wanted to be a great warrior, and Lionpaw lifts his chin, mewing of course he does. Hawkfrost meows then why can't he see what the tunnels mean. Lionpaw blinks, thinking the tunnels mean he can meet Heatherpaw without upsetting his Clan. Hawkfrost snorts that he doesn't understand, and Lionpaw meows he does, and Hawkfrost replies then why hasn't he figured out that the tunnels could be used for a surprise attack against WindClan. Lionpaw wonders why they would want to attack WindClan, and Hawkfrost mews the same reason WindClan might one day use the tunnels to attack ThunderClan. Lionpaw stares at Hawkfrost, thinking the warrior isn't making any sense to his tired ears.
- Hawkfrost rolls his eyes, slowly meowing what if he needed more territory or extra prey, would he wait for a passing patrol and beg for it. Lionpaw argues that they have enough prey and territory/ Hawkfrost snaps that things change, to look how different WindClan is now that they have Onestar as leader, ThunderClan is terrified of them, and Lionpaw protests they aren't. Hawkfrost pricks his ears, asking why Firestar is too scared to ask them what's happened to Hollypaw. Lionpaw's eyes grew round, and he asks the brown tabby if he knows. Hawkfrost replies that he knows enough to not sit around camp sending fruitless search parties to the borders but no farther. Lionpaw demands Hawkfrost tell him, but the dark warrior has turned away. Lionpaw pads after him, asking where Hollypaw is, and Hawkfrost glances over his shoulder, telling him to let the great Firestar find her, meanwhile, he better think about whether he wants to be a warrior or plan to live his life a loner, because if his Clanmates find out that he's kept the tunnels a secret from them, that's what he'll become.
- Lionpaw feels sick and stares after Hawkfrost, pleading for him to come back. The tabby warrior's outline shivers and disappears and Lionpaw is alone once again. His heart feels like a stone in his chest and he begins to worry. Suddenly weary, he pads through the trees and heads down the curve of the hollow toward camp. As he trails miserably toward the thorn barrier he sees it quiver. Paws are thundering through the tunnel and Lionpaw flattens his ears in surprise as Dustpelt explodes from the entrance with bristling fur, followed by Ashfur and Stormfur. Lionpaw leaps out of the way as they race past him and Thornclaw, Hazelpaw, and Poppypaw pelt after them. Hazelpaw calls for Lionpaw to join them as she whisks past. Alarm sets the blood pounding in the apprentice's ears and he fights off the weariness and chases after his Clanmate, panting as he catches up, asking what is going on. Hazelpaw swerves around a fern, answering that two WindClan apprentice's chased a squirrel right over the border and killed it on ThunderClan territory, the dawn patrol saw it and they sent Mousepaw back to fetch help, and the WindClan cats are saying it's their prey, no matter where they caught it.
- Lionpaw's spine bristles and he pulls ahead of Hazelpaw, catching up with his mentor. Ashfur glances at him, asking where he was, he'd been looking in the apprentices den when the alarm was called but he wasn't there. Lionpaw stares ahead as he mews he went out early and the gray warrior narrows his eyes. Lionpaw offers he couldn't sleep, then screeching splits the air. Through the trees, Lionpaw can see the pelts of his Clanmates, recognizing the angry yowls of Spiderleg and Brook's pelt streaks across the forest floor. Brightheart is wrestling with Whitetail and Tornear, Ashfoot, Weaselfur, and Owlwhisker screech and hiss, their claws flashing in the dawn light. Dustpelt hurtles from the undergrowth and Spiderleg spins around in surprise and relief, then begins to speak, only to be cut off when Tornear knocks him to the ground. Ashfoot rears up behind the ThunderClan warrior and sinks her claws into Spiderleg's shoulder. Brook grapples with Owlwhisker, screeching in pain as the pale tabby pins her to the ground and lets Wesealfur clamp his jaws around her tail. Dustpelt points his nose to a gap in the trees where the ground slopes down toward the stream that marks the border, ordering the patrol to spread out and drive them down. Thornclaw swerves toward Ashfoot, butting her with his head and knocking her away from Spiderleg. He rears up and hurls himself at Ashfoot again, and Spiderleg spins around and dives at Tornear.
- Dustpelt darts in the other direction, skidding around Brook and flying at Wesealfur. The brown warrior lets go of Brook's tail and turns to face Dustpelt, darting beneath his forepaws. Dustpelt digs his claws into the earth and holds his ground, wrestling Wesealfur to the floor while Brook turns and knocks Owlwhisker flying with a back kick. Poppypaw nudges Lionpaw and flicks her tail to where Breezepaw and Harepaw are swiping at Brightheart as she wrestles with Whitetail. Lionpaw nods, mewing he'll take Breezepaw and flings himself forward at the black apprentice. Caught off guard, Breezepaw rolls onto the ground and Lionpaw leaps on top of him, using his hind legs to brace himself as he slashed out with his forepaws. But Breezepaw is quick, ducking out of the way, leaving Lionpaw flailing at thin air. Lionpaw spins in time to see Breezepaw lunge at him. Remembering Tigersta's move, he flicks his hindlegs into the air, spun on his forepaws and leaps backwards, then rears up and rakes Breezepaw's astonished face with each paw, before tucking his head under and a neat forward roll.
- Satisfaction floods him and he silently asks if Tigerstar saw. Then Lionpaw freezes, spotting a pale tabby pelt among the fighting cats, worrying that it's Heatherpaw, but sags with relief when he realizes it is just Owlwhisker hurtling away from Brook. Suddenly, his ear burns, Breezepaw catches him with a thorn sharp claw. Angrier than ever, Lionpaw hurtles himself at the WindClan apprentice. Breezepaw falls backwards and Lionpaw rears up to rake him with his forepaws, but Breezepaw rolls away, sneering he's not fast enough. Hazelpaw streaks past and butts the black tom with her head. Breezepaw falls over, winded and Lionpaw rakes his claws down his flank. Hazelpaw hisses at Breezepaw to never stop to gloat, while clamping her teeth into his tail. Breezepaw yowls, scrambling to his paws and kicks Hazelpaw away with his hing legs, then stares into Lionpaw's eyes, asking if he can't take him by himself. Lionpaw leaps at him, grabbing Breezepaw's head between his forepaws and using his hindpaws to sweep his legs from under him. The WindClan apprentice rolls down the slope and disappears over the edge of the gully.
- Ashfur has Wesealfur pinned to the ground a tail-length away, and the the warrior manages to struggle from his grasp, but Ashfur catches him under the chin with a well-aimed blow that sends him sprawling back against a clump of brambles. Wesealfur screeches in pain and struggles to free himself from the thorny branches, then scrabbles backward onto WindClan territory. Brook is driving Owlwhisker down the slope, while Poppypaw clings to Whitetail's back, and Brightheart rakes the ears of the white warrior. Harepaw is already fleeing across the stream, with Hazelpaw yowling after him, then Ashfoot orders to retreat. Tornear looks up from pummeling Thornclaw's back, and at once, the golden brown tabby slithers from his grasp and scrambles to his paws, aiming vicious blows at Tornear's head. The WindClan warrior reels, hissing, then turns back, eyes narrowed with rage. The other WindClan cats have already fled. Tornear leaps the gully, halting beside his Clanmates, yowling that this isn't finished, and they huddle together, staring furiously at the ThunderClan cats. Dustpelt hisses at them to stay on thew moor for now on, and Ashfoot glares at him, mewing that Firestar gave them these woods, if they had a quarrel about them hunting in them, to take it up with him.
- Lionpaw fluffs out his fur and hisses at Breezepaw, saying no more squirrels for him. Breezepaw lashes his tail, meowing to not be so sure. Thornclaw leans toward the border, snarling at the WindClan cats to go home. Dustpelt bristles, saying this isn't the end, then turns, leading his Clanmates into the trees, then swings his head around to look at them, asking if anyone is badly hurt. Brightheart meows her tail hurts, but it'll mend. Lionpaw licks a paw and draws it over his scratched ear, feeling the nick at the top, and thinks proudly to himself that he'll carry this battle scar forever. Dustpelt narrows his eyes at Brook, saying she has some nasty scratches on her flank, but Brook reassures him they aren't deep, and Stormfur offers to take her back to camp. Dustpelt nods, mewing that he, Thornclaw, and Spiderleg will mark the borders, the rest can go home. Lionpaw asks if he can help, and Ashfur tells him he looks likes he's had enough for one day.
- Lionpaw drops his gaze, wondering if his lack of sleep showed that much and he reluctantly follows Stormfur and Brook as they head into the trees. Hazelpaw catches up to him, mewing wasn't it great, and Poppypaw falls in beside them, meowing she feels like a real warrior now. Lionpaw agrees, feeling a sudden surge of happiness, thinking Hawkfrost is wrong if he thinks he would never be a great warrior. As the patrol heads down into the hollow, Brambleclaw shoots out of the tunnel to meet them, asking if they drove them off. Stormfur mews it was easy, and Brambleclaw asks if there are any serious injures, Brightheart answers just some scratches, flicking her tail with a wince. Brambleclaw touches Lionpaw's head with his muzzle, noting his ear looks sore, but Lionpaw assures him it's okay. Stormfur mews Lionpaw fought like a warrior and the golden apprentice lifts his chin as his father runs his tail along his spine, purring he's sure he did. Squirrelflight asks if he is hurt, plucking the ground impatiently as the patrol pads into the clearing. She hurries to Lionpaw's side and he shies away, silently willing her to not make a fuss. Brambleclaw tells her he fought like a warrior and Squirrelflight blinks at him, mewing good.
- Lionpaw reports Brook has a scratch and Brightheart's tail has been bitten, but WindClan won't be coming back for a while. He hopes this is true, thinking he was lucky that Heatherpaw hadn't been in the WindClan patrol, but what about next time. Squirrelflight frets over Lionpaw's ear and the apprentice shrugs, mewing it's nothing, but Squirrelflight nudges him toward the medicine den, saying he better get it seen to anyway. Stormfur is guiding Brightheart and Brook through the bramble entrance and Lionpaw reluctantly follows them. He doesn't want Leafpool to heal his battle wound too well, in case it didn't leave a scar to show how well he had fought. Leafpool and Jaypaw are busy with Brook and Brightheart by the time he pushes his way through the brambles. Leafpool calls to Jaypaw she needs more cobwebs and Jaypaw spits out the poultice he is licking onto Brightheart's tail and dashes to the back of the den, returning with a mouthful of cobwebs, which Leafpool takes and presses against Brook's wound. Instantly, the cobweb is a sodden red wad on the floor and Stormfur worries if the bleeding will stop, Leafpool assures him it will, while pressing both paws on the wound and asks him to hold it like that. Stormfur nods and places his paws over Leafpool's. Leafpool draws her paws away and turns to inspect Brightheart's tail. She praises Jaypaw for using oak leaf, mewing it'll stop any infection and the wound will be healed in a day or two. She glances back at Stormfur, who is staring at his paws as he holds the cobweb against his mates side. She asks if there is any news of Hollypaw and Brook admits they didn't get the chance to ask. Leafpool sighs she supposes not, but she was hoping they may have given something away. Lionpaw announces WindClan doesn't have Hollypaw and Leafpool pricks her ears, asking how he knows.
- Lionpaw stares at the ground, mewing they would have surely told them if they had her, glancing up at Leafpool he adds why else would they have her. Leafpool sounds desperate as she asks then where is she. Lionpaw touches Jaypaw's shoulder with his tail, asking if he can ask StarClan. Jaypaw's fur pricks, almost as if he's annoyed, saying no. Leafpool snorts and pads to the back of the cave. Lionpaw frowns, wondering what is going on, then asks why hasn't he asked them, she's their sister. Jaypaw answers he hasn't had a chance yet, while lapping another tongueful of oak leaf and licks it onto Brightheart's tail. Lionpaw stares at his brother, pelt itching with frustration, turning to Leafpool, he asks if she's had a chance. Leafpool is padding Brook's side with cobwebs and drops the webs at Stormfur's paws, mewing it's not always possible to speak to StarClan, if their warrior ancestors have something they want to share they will find a way. Lionpaw flexes his claws, not wanting to sit and wait. Leafpool pads back to her store or herbs, mewing she's going to find something for his ear. Jaypaw whispers he could try and ask StarClan tonight. Lionpaw feels even more puzzled, wondering what is going on between Leafpool and Jaypaw - why didn't he want her to hear.
- Leafpool brings back a poultice wrapped in a leaf, asking Lionpaw if he can manage to rub it onto himself, she and Jaypaw need to check the rest of the patrol, then she leaves the den with Jaypaw following. Brightheart asks if he needs help, already pawing open the leaf and rubbing poultice onto her pad. She comforts him that she's sure Hollypaw will turn up, while wiping the ointment onto Lionpaw's ear. He winces as it stings, meowing Jaypaw will find out where she is. Weariness sweeps over him again. His night in the tunnels then the battle has sapped all the energy from him. He ducks away from Brightheart's paw, mewing he thinks that's enough. Brightheart agrees, wiping her paw onto her chest, then turns to Stormfur, asking how Brook's bleeding is, Stormfur replies he thinks it has stopped. Lionpaw leaves the den, his paws heavy as clay. He can't wait to curl up in his nest and close his eyes. Worry pricks at him, thinking a warrior should always be battle ready; what would have happened if he had been too tired to fight.
- Ashfur bounds over and Lionpaw's heart sinks, but he twitches his whiskers and tries to look as bright as he can manage, offering if he wants him to go hunting. Ashfur meows no, stopping beside him, saying he looks worn out and he should go get some sleep, he obviously needs to catch up. Lionpaw stiffens at the hint of warning in his mentors mew and he wonders if Ashfur suspects there is more to his exhaustion than an early morning run. Heart thumping in his chest, Lionpaw promises he'll always be ready to fight, he's going to become the best warrior ThunderClan has ever known. Ashfur's whiskers twitch and he replies he's sure he will.
- Lionpaw smells mouse and blinks open his eyes. A piece of fresh-kill is lying in the moss beside his nest. Honeypaw is standing over it, meowing she thought he'd be hungry. Lionpaw stretches his paws until they tremble, asking if it is late. Honeypaw reports the sunset patrol has just returned, and they brought the mouse back. Lionpaw asks if the elders have eaten and Honeypaw sits, mewing of course, then adds, her eyes sparkling, that Hazelpaw said he had taught Breezepaw a lesson, ending up in the stream. Lionpaw gets to his paws, his heart warming at the memory, saying he doesn't think any WindClan apprentice will be hunting in ThunderClan's territory for a long while. A chill runs down his spine, wondering what might have been if Heatherpaw was hunting with Breezepaw instead of Harepaw. Honeypaw is staring at him, asking if he's okay. Lionpaw shivers, mewing he's just tired, faking a yawn. Honeypaw shrugs, mewing the other apprentices are at the halfrock, if he wants to join them, then pads out of the den. Lionpaw gulps down the mouse and pads into the clearing to join his Clanmates. He chats with them, acutely aware of Hollypaw's absence. His paws itch for the other apprentices to go to their nests. He glances at the moon, slowly crossing the sky, misted by thin clouds. Heatherpaw is probably waiting for him.
- Berrypaw and Hazelpaw are the last to head for the den, their pelts glowing in the darkness. As soon as they disappear, Lionpaw pads quickly to the dirtplace tunnel. Glancing over his shoulder to make sure the clearing is empty, he slips out of camp. His ear is stinging from the cold night air by the time he reaches the tunnels. He pads inside, the usual eerie foreboding clutching his belly, but this time it's worse. There is something he has to do, something difficult, but he can't see any other way, however much it hurt. He pushes the dark thoughts away and follows the twisting passageway to the cave. Heatherpaw is already there, hurrying over to greet him, rubbing her nose along his cheek. She gasps when she sees his ear and Lionpaw mews it's fine. Her eyes glitter with worry as she asks if that is his only wound, Breezepaw said he'd shredded him. Lionpaw steps back, thinking she should be worried about her Clanmates, not him and he feels more certain than ever that what he's about to do is the right thing. Heatherpaw tips her head to one side, asking what's wrong, Lionpaw wonders if she can sense the guilt pricking in his pelt.
- Lionpaw gazes at her, meowing they can't meet anymore. Heatherpaw's eyes widen, wondering what he means, and Lionpaw replies they just can't. Heatherpaw protests they're having fun, why do they have to stop, they aren't hurting anyone. She sounds desperate, her voice coming in a squeak. Lionpaw mews he thinks she's great, then stares at his paws, wondering why she has to make this harder. He continues that she needs to find someone in her own Clan, he needs to be the best warrior he can be, and he can't do that if he's here every night. Heatherpaw flinches as though he'd raked his claws across her nose, and her mew is little more than a whisper as she says they don't have to meet every night. Lionpaw thinks to himself that that doesn't matter, he shouldn't be meeting her at all. He tells her he was looking out for her in the battle, what if she had been on that patrol. Heatherpaw mews he could have fought Harepaw or Breezepaw, Lionpaw cuts her off, saying battles aren't that simple and she knows it, he can't pick and choose, he has to defend his Clan, he can't be worrying about her all the time. He watches her gaze cloud with grief and his heart twists with pain.
- She mews if that's it then, and he answers yes, thinking he isn't going to show how close he is to changing his mind, to agree to see her once a moon or more. This is what he has to do. Anger flares in Heatherpaw's eyes and she snaps fine, she understands now, then turns away and pads toward the tunnel entrance. Before she disappears into the shadows, she glances over her shoulder, eyes brimming with pain, she meows she just hopes being a warrior is worth it.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Revealed in Dark River, page 222
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 226
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Revealed in Dark River, page 229
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Revealed in Dark River, page 230
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 231
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 235
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 239
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 240
|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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