|"We don't know anything for sure. WindClan doesn't know anything for sure. We're all just guessing! We might end up fighting over nothing!"|
|— Hollypaw to Mousefur and Longtail in Dark River, page 256|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter sixteen of Dark River. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 16 (of 21)
- Page Numbers: 243-260
- Hollypaw wriggles against Willowpaw, trying to get comfortable in the small nest they share, she wonders how Willowpaw can sleep so soundly with the water constantly washing against the rocks. Rain sprays the lake and drips from the overhang, leaving puddles on the floor. Through the entrance to the cave, Hollypaw can see the rocky causeway, slick with darkness. She strains to see the ThunderClan shore beyond it, but the air is too murky and she can only make out the shapes of the distant forest against the predawn sky. She has been stuck with RiverClan for two days now, Leopardstar still insisting it is not safe for her to travel home, but every cat, including Hollypaw, knows she is being kept on the island to stop her from revealing RiverClan's weakness. She rolls over, belly growling with hunger. Willowpaw sleepily asks if she can still and Hollypaw apologizes, her heart aching to be home. Willowpaw appears to hear the sadness in her friends mew and sits up, stretching, her eyes glowing with sympathy in the half-light, promising her she can go home soon. Hollypaw wonders how soon, and Willowpaw answers that the dam should be finished in a quarter moon, and they'll be able to move back to their old camp, she's sure Leopardstar with organize an escort for her then.
- Hollypaw is shocked, knowing she can't stay for that long, and asks what about her Clan. Willowpaw meows she knows they'll be worried, but to think of how happy they'll be once she gets back. Hollypaw thinks to herself they'll be angry, her heart sinking as she imagines Brambleclaw's pelt pricking with annoyance and Squirrelflight's gaze sharp with disapproval. Willowpaw's eyes grow round, asking if she won't say anything about the island and the Twolegs. Hollypaw answers not if she doesn't want her to, guessing why Willowpaw is so frightened about the other Clans knowing how much RiverClan has suffered. She promises not to tell her Clanmates once she returns to ThunderClan. Willowpaw sighs everything will be back to normal soon, and Hollypaw agrees with yes, feeling the word catch in the back of her throat. She is no longer sure that the end of RiverClan's troubles will stop the hostility between the Clans. She thinks of the WindClan patrol she faced with the RiverClan cats - they had bristled with so much aggression, they hadn't wanted to hear RiverClan's explanation, and Hollypaw wonders if the hunger for battle can vanish like mist in sunshine.
- The sky lightens behind the clouds and across the causeway cats begin to stir on the island. Hollypaw can see pelts moving among the trees, pelts already familiar as those of her own Clan. Graymist is leading Sneezekit and Mallowkit down to the shore to drink, Mosspelt is heading over to the tree-bridge with Beechfur and Pebblepaw. Hollypaw silently remarks on what a small patrol it is, knowing that most of the warriors effort is being channeled into recovering the old island camp. Mistyfoot pads from the trees and crosses the causeway, a fish drooping in her jaws, she drops it in the puddle at the front of the overhang. Mothwing lifts her head at the splash and stretches in her nest, thanking the deputy as she yawns. Hollypaw knows it is unusual for the Clan deputy to deliver food to the medicine den, and is painfully aware Mistyfoot came to check to see if she had escaped during the night, but she is grateful the blue-furred she-cat chose such a tactful way of doing it.
- Mistyfoot mews it's not much, but it should see them through the day. Food is so scarce that some of the RiverClan warriors go to bed hungry. Hollypaw is lucky to be fed at all. But as thankful as she is that RiverClan is prepared to feed their unwelcome guest, she can't get used to the strange tang of fish and she longs for the musky flavor of forest prey. Mosspelt yowls that there's an intruder from the tree-bridge. Graymist instantly begins to herd her kits back to the island clearing. Hollypaw stiffens as she scents ThunderClan. Hope flutters in her chest and she strains to see through the drizzle. The dawn patrol is circling a cat on the far shore and Hollypaw recognizes Squirrelflight's pelt and feels the same surge of excitement she used to when, as a kit, Squirrelflight would return to the nursery after a spell in the warriors' den. Mistyfoot growls to Hollypaw she better come with her and the apprentice leaps after her as she pads back along the causeway. Her paws fizz as she trots onto the island, forcing herself not to race past the RiverClan deputy. Pebblepaw bounds from the undergrowth, mewing she's come to get Hollypaw.
- Behind him, the ferns rustle and Squirrelflight pads calmly into the clearing, Mosspelt and Beechfur flanking her. Hollypaw tenses, realizes her mother is alone and wonders if Leopardstar would let them leave together. She glances nervously toward the Great Oak and sees Leopardstar squeeze out of her makeshift den among the roots. The RiverClan leader stares at Squirrelflight and Hollypaw notices uncertainty in her eyes and her fur pricks along her spine. Squirrelflight halts in front of the dappled golden she-cat and dips her head, meowing she has come to fetch one of ThunderClan's apprentices. Hollypaw wants to race forward and brush muzzles with her mother, but Squirrelflight hasn't even looked at her yet, she is staring steadily at Leopardstar and says she believes she strayed into RiverClan territory.
- Leopardstar echoes strayed, eyes widening in disbelief and adds she came to spy. Hollypaw's ears burn and meows she only wanted to help, before she can stop them from bursting out. Squirrelflight swings her head around to glare at her and Hollypaw shrinks back. Around the clearing, RiverClan cats are watching, muscles tense and tails twitching. Squirrelflight mews she is only an apprentice, she lacks the good judgement that she hopes will come with experience and she promises she'll be punished for breaking the warrior code, but ThunderClan can't allow her to remain in RiverClan. Her mew is firm, the politeness only thinly masking the unspoken threat. Hollypaw wonders if ThunderClan would really fight to bring her home, and she flexes her claws nervously, unable to believe she may end up causing a battle. Leopardstar's shoulders stiffen as she meets Squirrelflight's gaze.
- Hollypaw wonders if she will let her go, her heart racing. Leopardstar turns to look at Hollypaw, asking if she can trust her to show better judgement in the future. Hollypaw knows she's asking her to keep her mouth shut. She answers yes with a nod, adding she made a mistake coming here, but she won't let any cat suffer for it. Leopardstar blinks slowly, mewing then she may go home. Hollypaw thanks her, letting out a sigh of relief. Around the clearing, uneasy mews ripple among the RiverClan cats. Squirrelflight thanks Leopardstar, apologizing on behalf of ThunderClan. Hollypaw winces with shame, noticing the tip of her mother's tail is twitching - she is furious. She pads over to Squirrelflight's side, staring at her paws, thinking how embarrassing it is to be fetched home like a naughty kit. Squirrelflight dips her head and turns toward the ferns.
- Leopardstar calls for them to wait, flicking her tail, she says Mosspelt and Beechfur with accompany them to the border. Squirrelflight glances back with narrowed eyes and nods curtly. Paws patter over the clearing as Willowpaw hurries toward them, she brushes her muzzle along Hollypaw's cheek, mewing her good-byes, adding in a whisper to promise not to say anything. Hollypaw promises and Willowpaw steps back, glancing awkwardly at her Clanmates who stare. Graymist is curling her lip and Heavystep flattens his ears with disapproval. Mosspelt leads the way into the undergrowth and Squirrelflight shoos Hollypaw ahead as Beechfur falls in behind them. They pad to the edge of the island and cross the tree-bridge. Hollypaw wants to tell her mother how happy she is to see her but doesn't feel right to say it in front of their escorts. She holds her tongue until the reach the WindClan border.
- Squirrelflight hardly looks at her, checking only to make sure she made it down from the tree-bridge without tripping and steering her away from the waves that lap the shore. Hollypaw meows she's sorry, the words exploding from her mouth as soon as the RiverClan warriors turn their backs. Squirrelflight's eyes cloud, hissing to never do it again, and Hollypaw meekly promises she won't. Squirrelflight leads the way along the shore, and meows she does understand, and Hollypaw pricks her ears. Squirrelflight keeps her gaze fixed firmly ahead as she continues that she knows what it's like to have friends in other Clans, to feel there's something stronger than her Clan calling her away from home. Hollypaw thinks she must be talking about the Great Journey. Squirrelflight glances back at her, adding but trying to help RiverClan was a foolish idea, thinking she could sort out the Clans' problems on her own was very arrogant. Hollypaw feels stung, she had never meant to be like that.
- Squirrelflight goes on that Firestar told her ThunderClan wasn't going to interfere, he's older and wiser than her and she should have obeyed him, she broke the warrior code by disobeying him and she put her Clan at risk. Hollypaw searches for words to defend herself, but she suddenly can't. There is no way she can make her Clanmates understand that she had only wanted to stop a battle. Squirrelflight adds they had to drive a WindClan patrol off while she was gone. Hollypaw blinks, asking if they tried to invade. Squirrelflight glances up the moor, mewing not yet, but they chased a squirrel onto ThunderClan territory and claimed it as their prey. Hollypaw can hardly believe her ears, and Squirrelflight says Lionpaw helped fight them off. Hollypaw's pelt bristles with alarm, wondering if he's okay. Squirrelflight's whiskers twitch as she mews only a scratch on his ears, she thinks he's proud. Hollypaw murmurs she wish she had been there, and Squirrelflight meows she should have been there, her Clan needs her more than ever.
- Hollypaw remembers how close she'd come to fighting WindClan with the RiverClan patrol. Guilt gnaws at her belly, knowing she should have been facing them with her own Clan. Squirrelflight goes on that the smell of battle is in the air. Hollypaw protests that RiverClan isn't planning to invade WindClan territory. She can't explain the trouble in their camp because she had promised Leopardstar and Willowpaw, but she has to try and keep the Clans from fighting. Squirrelflight's meows what RiverClan decides to do or not do is none of their business, their only concern is defending their own borders. Hollypaw wonders how her mother can be so nearsighted, but bites back the words. Squirrelflight pauses and gazes at her, mewing she knows she thinks she was doing the right thing, but she's only an apprentice, how can she possibly understand, her duty is to listen and learn and leave the decision making to the warriors. Hollypaw's paws itch with resentment, wondering why being an apprentice means her opinion doesn't count, and lowers her eyes to hide her anger.
- Squirrelflight clearly takes this as as sign of obedience, mewing good and begins to hurry along the shore. The border is in sight and Hollypaw is relieved to see it. A thought suddenly flashes into her mind and she is surprised she never asks before. She wonders how Squirrelflight how she knew she was in RiverClan. Her mother flatly answers that Jaypaw had a dream, not seeming surprised by Jaypaw's abilities. Hollypaw feels proud of her brother, wondering what it must feel like to have that sort of power. If he knew where she had been, did that mean he knew about the RiverClan camp. She won't breathe a word about it to Firestar, but will her brother do the same.
- The camp falls silent as they return and pad into the clearing. Hollypaw hears Brightheart whispering she's back to Sorreltail. Brook looks up from washing, mewing she's glad to see Hollypaw's safe, Stormfur nods at her but says nothing. Dustpelt and Thornclaw only glance at her before returning to their hushed conversation. Hollypaw knows she's in huge trouble. Lionpaw races from the apprentice den, with bright as, as if he has been asleep for ages and he weaves around her, purring she smells like fish. Jaypaw pads out of the medicine den and blinks, his eyes staring directly at her. Hollypaw has the unnerving sense he can see her even though she knows he can't. Squirrelflight informs her she needs to see Firestar. Hollypaw's fur tingles as Squirrelflight watches her climb up to Highledge and her heart pounds as she steps into the cave. Brackenfur is sitting beside Firestar, welcoming her back with a grim mew. Firestar narrows his eyes, meowing she has caused a lot of worry and effort at a time where the Clan can least afford it. Hollypaw begins to defend herself, only for Firestar to cut her off, adding they don't want to hear excuses, she broke the warrior code and he told her plainly that they were not going to interfere with RiverClan but she went anyway, she abandoned her Clan when it needs its warriors and apprentices the most. Hollypaw meows that they shouldn't fight WindClan, she discovered something. Firestar questions her and Hollypaw scrapes her claws over the rocky floor, mewing she can't tell him.
- Firestar echoes her and Hollypaw's tail twitches unhappily as she says she made a promise, he has to trust her and there's no need to fight. Firestar's tail whisks over the ground, asking if she really expects him to make decisions for the Clan based on that. Hollypaw opens her mouth, but doesn't know how to answer. Firestar goes on that she will be confined to camp for a day, it should be longer, but they can't spare her, patrols have been stepped up since WindClan hunted on their territory and she is expected to play her part, but she will be responsible for looking after the elders for the next moon. Hollypaw dips her head, the promise she made with Leopardstar stuck in her throat, but she is determined to honor it. She isn't going to let every cat who knows her accuse her of being disloyal, and she thinks at least RiverClan didn't treat her like a stupid kit, they even thought she might have been a spy. She asks Firestar if that is it, and Firestar flicks his tail, saying she can go start now, Mousefur and Longtail will be grateful for fresh bedding.
- Hollypaw leaves the den, wondering why Firestar can't have more faith in her, had he been to RiverClan, the Clan leaders only look as far as the ends of their whiskers. Angrily, she skids down the rocky slope and stomps to Leafpool's den. She pokes her head through the brambbles, asking if she can have fresh bedding for the elders. Leafpool is unwrapping cobwebs from Cinderpaw's leg. Cinderpaw is happy to see her and she mews Jaypaw's dream was right. Jaypaw mews of course it was right, as he sorts the herbs at the back of the den. He turns to face his sister, adding he supposes Firestar has put her on nettles and water for a moon. Hollypaw murmurs not quite, her whiskers twitching, thinking it is good to hear Jaypaw's grouchy meow again, she thanks him for sending their mother to find her. Jaypaw shrugs and goes back to sorting. Leafpool is staring at her with troubled eyes, meowing she's glad she's safe, and Hollypaw apologizes for worrying everyone. Leafpool's mew is suddenly fierce as she says don't do it again. Hollypaw bristles, thinking she sounds like her mother. She asks for moss again.
- Leafpool flicks her tail to the pile at the side of the cave, telling her to help herself. Hollypaw takes the biggest clump she can carry and pads to the elders den, and she thinks there are worse punishments than this. Mousefur shifts out of the way as Hollypaw begins to sift through the old bedding, asking her if it is true she was in RiverClan, and Hollypaw answers yes. Longtail leans forward, his nose twitching and wonders if they treated her well, it smells like they fed her. Hollypaw answers yes again, Mousefur wrinkles her muzzle, mewing she has never liked the taste of fish. Hollypaw plucks a wad of dried moss and flings it toward the entrance. Mousefur narrows her eyes, saying she's very quiet for an apprentice who has just had a big adventure. Hollypaw flings another clump of moss, asking what's the point in talking, no one wants to listen to an apprentice. Longtail sympathetically asks if Firestar was tough on her, and Hollypaw answers no. Mousefur flicks her tail, snapping it's no use sulking, she broke the warrior code, did she think everyone would welcome her back like a hero.
- Hollypaw glares at her, mewing no, but at least she was trying to help, everyone else wants to fight. Longtail points out they have to defend their borders, and Hollypaw argues they wouldn't have to defend their borders if they just talked to one another. Longtail's eyes widened with surprise, meowing they're warriors, they fight with tooth and claw, not words. Mousefur says wait a moment, leaning toward Hollypaw, asking why she thinks talk will help, WindClan has made it clear they want to steal their prey, they crossed the border once, they're trying to steal territory. Hollypaw challenges why do they think WindClan wants to steal territory and Longtail meows because RiverClan is planning to steal theirs. Hollypaw's tail twitches and she asks if he's sure. Longtail argues of course, they lost their land, they have to go somewhere. Hollypaw wishes she hadn't promised RiverClan she'd keep quiet. She snaps everyone is jumping to conclusions, they don't know for sure, WindClan doesn't know anything for sure, they're all just guessing, they might end up fighting for nothing. Mousefur frowns, her mew thoughtful as she asks if Hollypaw does think talking might stop the battle. Hollypaw feels a flicker of hope in her pelt, gazing expectantly at Mousefur, asking if she could get Firstar to think about it. Mousefur doesn't reply directly, instead saying she better fetch some more moss, beginning to spread the pile Hollypaw just brought.
- Hollypaw closes her eyes with the sweet flavor of mouse on her tongue. She crunches through a bone, thinking it's something worth chewing at last. She is beside the halfrock with Poppypaw and Honeypaw, newleaf sunshine warming her pelt. For the first time in days she pushes away her worries about the coming battle and enjoys the familiar scents of home. Poppypaw idly hooks a sparrow from one paw to the other, asking what RiverClan is like. Hollypaw replies they're pretty much the same as ThunderClan, with grumpy elders, bossy warriors and trouble making kits. Poppypaw purrs don't let Brackenfur hear her say that, she's in enough trouble as it is. Hollypaw sits up, mewing for them to look as Leafpool leads Cinderpaw slowly out into the clearing. Cinderpaw is limping, hardly touching the ground with her injured leg, but the rushes and cobwebs are gone. Her leg looks thin, the fur pressed flat against her skin from being bound up for so long, but her eyes are bright with excitement. Leafpool calls Hollypaw and the apprentice leaps to her paws, gulping down the rest of her mouse and hurries to greet her friend, flicking over her ears, she mews she's better. Leafpool warns not completely, her eyes glittering with worry, adding but she's fidgeting around in the den so much, she thought she better get some fresh air. Cinderpaw asks if they can go out into the forest and Leafpool bristles, saying no, then stares at Hollypaw, mewing she thought she could help Cinderpaw with some gentle exercise, emphasizing the word gentle. Hollypaw agrees, kneading the ground and Leafpool orders them to stay in the clearing and to be careful. As Leafpool goes back to the medicine den, Hollypaw whispers she's acting like a badger with sore stripes. Cinderpaw purrs she knows, she worries too much, Leafpool thinks if she breathes too hard she's going to be crippled for life. Hollypaw sniffs Cinderpaw's leg, which smells strongly of comrey, asking how it feels. Cinderpaw answers it's stiff and sort of delicate, but it doesn't hurt anymore, she just has to be careful. Hollypaw wonders if she can put weight on it, and Cinderpaw slowly presses her pad down, wincing, then her face relaxes, saying not bad. Gingerly, she pads forward, walking easily to the middle of the clearing. She stretches out her forelegs and presses her chest to toward the ground, mewing it's great to be outside again.
- Hollypaw hurries to the honeysuckle bush where she had left a pile of moss after cleaning out the elders den, tearing a small clump away with her teeth and rolls it into a ball, asking Cinderpaw if she can still catch, tossing the ball across the clearing, and her heart lurches, wondering what would happen if her friend stretched up too high to catch it. Cinderpaw lets the ball land in front of her and hooks it up with a claw, retorting not if she throws it as badly as that, then tosses the ball back to Hollypaw. Hollypaw leaps and bats it back, this time Cinderpaw lifts a forepaw and stretches up onto three legs to catch the ball between her teeth. Hollypaw mews nice one, racing back to her friend. Cinderpaw mews she's been practicing with Jaypaw as she drops the ball. Hollypaw asks he's been playing with her, a little surprised, thinking her brother always seems so serious when he is in the medicine den. Cinderpaw mews sometimes, but only to keep her quiet. She looks at the ground, adding she actually doesn't think he likes having her around. Hollypaw meows nonsense, asking how can a medicine cat resent his patients. She butts Cinderpaw on the shoulder. She can guess just how grouchy Jaypaw has been with Cinderpaw, if only he'd learn a bit of kindness from Leafpool.
- Foxkit and Icekit ask if they can play, hurtling from the nursery. Foxkit swipes the moss away from Cinderpaw, his pelt glowing like autumn leaves in the afternoon sun. Icekit skids past him, knocking the ball away as Foxkit lunges after her. He mews he got it first, tumbling to the ground next to her. Hollypaw darts behind the squirming kits and picks up the moss ball, mewing now neither of them has it, flinging it over the two kits and Cinderpaw reaches up and snags it with a claw. Cinderpaw teases that's the trouble with being no bigger than a hedgehog, they can only catch worms, she flicks the ball over the kits heads for Hollypaw to catch. The two kits leap into the air, reaching for the ball as it soars over them. Hollypaw calls they have to jump higher than that. Foxkit mews not if she can't throw it, dashing at Hollypaw and leaping onto her back, scrabbling at her fur and making her stagger sideways. Icekit grabs the moss ball from her paws, hissing trying to steal their prey. Foxkit digs his claws into Hollypaw's pelt, meowing thief. Icekit cries she must be a WindClan intruder, dropping the moss ball and throwing herself at Hollypaw, yowling attack. Hollypaw pretends to yelp in terror as she tussles with the kits but, though she is playing, an icy chill shivers in her belly. Even the kits are ready to fight WindClan. The coming battle is like a fox waiting in the shadows.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 243
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 244
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Revealed in Dark River, page 245
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 248
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Revealed in Dark River, page 250
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Revealed in Dark River, page 252
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Revealed in Dark River, page 254
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 257
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 259
|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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