|"It makes sense for WindClan to invade us if RiverClan has taken their territory. But what if Onestar leads an attack just because he's afraid that RiverClan might take his territory? Blood would be shed for no reason."|
|— Firestar to Leafpool in Dark River, page 263|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter seventeen of Dark River. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 17 (of 21)
- Page Numbers: 261-275
- Jaypaw plucks at the moss in the bottom of his nest to soften it before curling up to sleep. Cinderpaw is already snoring, worn out by her game with Hollypaw. He thinks how nice and quiet the medicine den will be since she's moving back to her den soon. Outside the den, the thorn barrier rustles as the last patrol returns, their unhurried steps signaling everything is fine. Jaypaw hears water slosh as Leafpool soaks a wad of moss in the pool to leave beside Cinderpaw's nest in case she woke up thirsty. His mentor meows she thinks they should take a look at the catmint by the old Twoleg nest tomorrow, she wants to see if there is new growth.
- Jaypaw wonders if they're going to pick any, and Leafpool's paws scuff across the ground as she carries the dripping moss to Cinderpaw's nest, mewing not yet, but she wants to know whether there'll be a good harvest this year. Jaypaw meows there's been enough rain, tucking his nose between his paws and closing his eyes, and adds good night. Leafpool says sleep well, her nest crunching as she climbs into it and starts washing, the gentle lapping of her tongue begins to lull Jaypaw to sleep. Firestar calls Leafpool's name, waking Jaypaw with a start. The leader is pushing his way through the bramble entrance. Jaypaw lifts his head, instantly alert and sensing unease pulsing from Firestar's pelt. Leafpool jumps out of her nest and Firestar meows this concerns both of them, Jaypaw gets up too, not bothering to pretend he wasn't listening.
- Leafpool anxiously whispers if something's wrong, and Firestar shifts his paws, saying he wants them to visit WindClan tomorrow. Leafpool echoes him, wondering if he wants her to speak with Barkface. Firestar mews no, Onestar, choosing his words carefully as he speaks. Leafpool wonders why them and Firestar says only they can make the journey, if he sends warriors, WindClan will see it as a threat. Leafpool asks what he wants them to say to him, sounding puzzled, Firestar replies he wants them to find out what's happening in WindClan. Jaypaw feels a surge of excitement, thinking this is a spying mission and Firestar wants them to find WindClan's weaknesses. But he can detect no scheming in Firestar's mind, only honest anxiety. Firestar explains he's been speak with Mousefur and she seems to think Hollypaw is right, that all this talk of battle has grown out of gossip and guesswork, he needs them to find out whether RiverClan has actually invaded WindClan's territory.
- Jaypaw blinks, wondering what difference it makes, Firestar replies if there's going to be a battle with WindClan, he wants it to be for a good reason. Leafpool's tail swishes over the ground, asking but if they cross their borders, isn't that a good enough reason. Firestar growls yes, but they might be able to stop them from crossing the border from now on. Jaypaw points out that they've already done it once and gotten away with it, ignoring Leafpool's hiss of warning; apprentices aren't meant to speak to their Clan leaders that way. Jaypaw feels Firestar's gaze warm his pelt as he says it could have been a mistake, their apprentices would not the the first to stray onto another Clan's territory, and Jaypaw thinks he means Hollypaw. Firestar goes on that it makes sense for WindClan to invade them if RiverClan has taken their territory, but what if Onestar leads an attack just because he's afraid that RiverClan might take territory, blood would be shed for no reason. Leafpool plucks the ground, mewing she doesn't understand what he wants them to do, if they find out RiverClan hasn't invaded, does he want them to ask Onestar not to fight, won't that make ThunderClan look weak.
- Firestar stiffens, saying they must make it clear ThunderClan is ready to fight if they have to, he'd just rather fight a battle driven by a real need, not empty fears. Leafpool presses, asking, wouldn't it make them look like cowards to go try and persuade Onestar to not attack. Anger flashes from Firestar and he mews they're not cowards, then asks, why should they fight a pointless battle to prove it.
- Dawn is bright and cold as the pale sun peeps over the forest at the top of the hollow the next morning, but Jaypaw can smell rain on the wind. He waits at the camp entrance while Firestar gives his final orders to their escorts - Brambleclaw and Dustpelt. Leafpool presses against Jaypaw, and he can sense doubt darkening her thoughts, then she asks if he's ready. Jaypaw says yes, tail twitching with excitement and thinks to himself there's more to being a medicine cat than picking herbs. Brambleclaw calls them off with Leafpool heading after him and Dustpelt falling in the back; Jaypaw feels the dark tabby's uncertainty, Dustpelt thinks Firestar is being too hasty, it's too soon to let WindClan know they'd rather avoid battle. Brambleclaw's thoughts are harder to read, his mind clouded with doubt one moment, then bright with hope the next. The patrol pads silent through the forest until they reach the border, when Dustpelt scathingly asks if they're just going to wait for a patrol to come by and ask if they need help, and Brambleclaw growls yes.
- Dustpelt paces up and down, re-marking the bushes, irritation fiercely flashing from him. Leafpool suggests Jaypaw and her just go by themselves, that's what they'd do if they needed to speak with Barkface. Jaypaw nods, thinking that since they're medicine cats, they may as well take advantage of their special freedom to travel. Brambleclaw firmly disagrees, they're not speaking to Barkface and it's too soon since the run in with WindClan patrol for them to go on their without them knowing, his duty is to make sure they're safe, so they'll wait. The sun warms the earth and Jaypaw can smell heather budding and young rabbits. He suddenly stiffens as the musky tang of WindClan edges the wind. He recognizes the scents of Harepaw and Tornear, along with a two more cats who he can't name. He can feel tension spiking from Leafpool as she identifies Nightcloud in the patrol.
- He knows there's some connection between his mentor and the WindClan she-cat. He had felt it thicken the air between them before, but he has no idea what it could be. As he probes Leafpool's mind, he is surprised to find jealousy. Dustpelt murmurs Tornear, Harepaw, and Owlwhisker are with her, and complains he would have preferred if Tornear had stayed in his nest, and the brown tabby's pelt tickles Jaypaw's flank as his fur fluffs out defensively. Brambleclaw orders him to relax, WindClan must not think they're showing signs of aggression. Dustpelt mutters under his breaths, and Brambleclaw hisses for silence, then raises his voice, calling out to Tornear. Hostility slams into Jaypaw as the WindClan cats spot the ThunderClan patrol. The air seems to crackle around him and he tenses, suddenly afraid. Tornear's mew is accusing as he demands what do they want.
- Fur brushes the heather as the WindClan patrol approaches. Jaypaw senses Brambleclaw squaring himself to meet them, telling them calmly that Leafpool and Jaypaw wish to speak to Onestar. Surprise pulses from Tornear's pelt as he asks why, and Jaypaw can feel suspicion waking in the WindClan patrols minds, and he can guess they're looking at one another, wondering how to answer. Owlwhisker asks if it's just Leafpool and Jaypaw, growling the question. Brambleclaw assures Owlwhisker that he and Dustpelt will wait for them at the border. Silence hangs in the air, then Tornear slowly meows that Owlwhisker and Harepaw will wait with them. Jaypaw digs his claws into the grass, eager to get a move on. Brambleclaw asks if he can trust the patrol to safely see the medicine cats to their camp, and Tornear snorts of course.
- Brambleclaw tells Leafpool with a mew thick with warning aim at the WindClan cats, that if they're not back by sunhigh, they'll fetch a patrol to come looking for them, and Tornear growls she'll be back. Jaypaw hears Leafpool's fur brush the heather as she crosses the border, and he follows, pressing against her. It is exciting for him to be traveling to the WindClan camp, but he suddenly feels vulnerable, and an icy chill sweeps his fur as clouds block the sun. Leafpool guides Jaypaw to the camp, whispering to keep his chin high. He only stumbles once when she doesn't warn him about a trailing branch of gorse. Soon Jaypaw smells brambles and a stronger scent of WindClan and senses space beneath him as the ground dips away in front of them as they reach the camp, Tornear warns them to stay close.
- Jaypaw walks step by step with Leafpool as the WindClan warrior leads them into a swath of bramble, through a twisting and turning tunnel, leading down into a hollow. Jaypaw can hear Nightcloud's breath behind him as she brings up the rear. As they exit the tunnel, the wind strokes his whiskers and for a moment he is overwhelmed by the jumble of scents. He figures they must be in the center of the camp, and a fresh wind tugs his fur, watchful eyes stab his pelt and mutters arise from the WindClan cats as they emerge from their dens. Jaypaw can feel their curiosity, hostility, and even fear throbbing in the air. Tornear is whispering to a young tom and Jaypaw stains to hear, but before he can make out the words, the tom hares out of camp.
- Tornear announces Onestar is out hunting, so they'll have to wait for his return, then he raises his voice to address his curious Clanmates that they've come to see Onestar. Alarm and suspicion ripples around the clearing and Jaypaw pricks his ears, realizing this isn't a Clan determined to expand their territory, they are frightened and confused. His belly tightens; frightened cats are unpredictable. He quietly asks Leafpool if they should just speak to Barkface instead then leave, but his mentor doesn't seem to hear, her attention flitting around the camp, as though searching for something. Suddenly, intense emotion sparks from her, almost making Jaypaw flinch, he can't tell if she's feeling excitement, anger, of grief.
- Leafpool greets Crowfeather, her calm mew doesn't betray the storm raging in her head. Jealousy spikes behind him, and Jaypaw realizes Nightcloud's pelt is bristling. Crowfeather quietly and curtly asks what she's doing here, and Jaypaw studies the warriors mind, but only finds that it's barbed with wariness. Leafpool explains that Firestar sent them to speak with Onestar, and Crowfeather mews he isn't here, Leafpool sits down, saying they know. The first drop of rain dabs Jaypaw's nose. The brambles rustle and a few moments later Onestat enters the clearing with Whitetail and Weaselfur, demanding what ThunderClan wants. Leafpool answers that Firestar sent them, and Onestar warily paces around them, asking if they're in trouble. When Leafpool meows no, Onestar halts so close to them, Jaypaw can smell the rabbit blood on his breath as he asks if Firestar thinks there's a special relationship between their Clans, because there isn't.
- Leafpool meows Firestar understands that, and Jaypaw is impressed with how calm his mentor sounds, even though he can feel her trembling against him. She goes on that Firestar doesn't want to shed blood over their shared border. Onestar swishes his tail through the air, asking, why attack WindClan's apprentices then. Leafpool meows WindClan warriors unsheathed their claws first, ThunderClan was only defending the border they crossed. Tornear hisses it was their prey, and yowls of agreement rise around the clearing. Jaypaw hisses it isn't, once it has crossed the border, and Leafpool's tail brushes his mouth. She shifts, her pads squelching in the slippery earth as the rain begins to fall steadily, and mews they didn't come to argue. Onestar's voice is a growl as he asks then why did they come, and Leafpool says to talk. Tornear tears at the ground, asking if Firestar was too mouse-hearted to come himself. Leafpool explains Firestar didn't want to provoke WindClan by sending a warrior patrol, he wants to soothe the situation, not inflame it.
- Crowfeather circles them, meowing then he shouldn't have sent anyone. Jaypaw feels hot anger surge from Leafpool's pelt, and she hisses not every cat hides from his responsibilities. Crowfeather halts, asking if she's implying that's what he would do, and his whiskers brush Jaypaw's face as he leans in toward Leafpool. Onestar hisses at the tom to get out of the way, nudging him aside, asking Leafpool what she wants to talk about. Leafpool is growing impatient as she says Firestar wants to know if RiverClan has invaded WindClan's territory, if that's why they've been hunting so close to ThunderClan's borders, are they being forced into their territory, or do they simply want to take their land because they are foolish enough to think they can. Jaypaw is shocked by her fierceness and he feels Onestar freeze; Leafpool has surprised him too.
- Angry whispers dart between the watching cats, the air seeming to crackle like lightning as the rising wind drives the rain harder into the camp. Jaypaw tenses, waiting for Onestar's answer. The WindClan leader slowly begins that RiverClan hasn't invaded, but that doesn't mean they won't, then asks if Firestar expects them to wait until they do, does he think they should sit around like fat voles, waiting to be pounced on. Leafpool snaps they aren't voles, asking why not defend their border with RiverClan instead of threatening ThunderClan's. Onestar retorts they will defend the borders they have too and take the territory they need. Leafpool points out they don't even knows if RiverClan will invade, why threaten ThunderClan. Tornear growls she sounds like a blackbird singing the same song over and over again. Leafpool's mew becomes coaxing as she suggests Barkface can speak with Mothwing at the next Moonpool gathering, he can find out what RiverClan intends, it may turn out they have nothing to fear. Crowfeather hisses they aren't afraid.
- Leafpool presses then why won't they listen to reason, they are honorable warriors, why let themselves be driven by suspicion instead of truth. Weaselfur sneers she's trying to steal time for her Clan with clever words, and Tornear warns WindClan fights with claws not words. Jaypaw bristles, hissing it's like trying to show worms to moles, their too blind to see beyond their own noses, and Weaselfur mocks Jaypaw about his blindness. Onestar orders them to stop, saying Leafpool may be right, perhaps they should give RiverClan a chance to explain what's going on before they act, and Tornear growls a chance to invade, more like. Crowfeather argues they saw desperate RiverClan looked at the Gathering, and every patrol they see looks hungrier than the last, they can't be trusted.
- Onestar points out they haven't invaded yet, and Tornear reminds him they crossed the border, and Onestar says only once. Jaypaw can sense Onestar's mind slow as he thinks, murmuring they can't let RiverClan drive them into unnecessary bloodshed. Suddenly a panicked yowl splits the air beyond the camp wall, and the dripping brambles shake as a WindClan queen skids into camp, screeching her kits are gone. Alarmed mews fill the camp and the queen pants they've disappeared. Onestar demands when she last saw them. The queen fights for breath as she mews she left them in the nursery and she went out to stretch her legs, they weren't there when she returned, so she looked for them. She carries on that they've wandered off before, but not far, this time there's no sign of them, their trails head toward the RiverClan border and then just disappear, and she cries she is convinced a hawk has carried them off.
- Onestar tells Gorsetail to calm down, his fur bristling, but mew steady, as he says they can't be sure, no hawk has ever taken more than one kit before, they need to send a search party. Suddenly paws pound through the entrance tunnel and Ashfoot pelts into camp, and Jaypaw scents Breezepaw and Heatherpaw behind her. The WindClan deputy reports they've seen a RiverClan patrol heading back into their territory. Breezepaw adds they've been on WindClan's land, with Heatherpaw mewing there was rabbit blood where they'd been seen. Terror flashes from Gorsetail, and she asks if they're sure it's rabbit blood. Confusion clouds Heatherpaw's mind and Gorsetail wails her kits have disappeared. Heatherpaw sounds horrified as she asks if they think a RiverClan patrol took them, and her thoughts whirl like leaves in the wind.
- Jaypaw tries to read them but they're moving too fast, he knows only that in their center hovers something dark, a sense of blackness that makes his blood turn to ice. He can tell she knows more than she's letting on. Onestar turns his attention back to Leafpool, mewing she must leave. Leafpool gasps, asking if they're going to attack RiverClan. Onestar hisses they will do what they must to get their kits back. Jaypaw objects that they don't know if RiverClan really took them, a moment ago they thought it was a hawk, and he is argued against that that was before RiverClan crossed the border, and Jaypaw mews they may have had a good reason, Ashfoot growls to steal their kits. Leafpool begins to speak, but is cut off when Onestar snarls at them to go home. Jaypaw flinches as he leans closer, and Onestar mews they can tell Firestar it's too late, they've wasted their time trying to protect RiverClan, they're attack at once.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Revealed in Dark River, page 261
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Revealed in Dark River, page 262
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 264
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Revealed in Dark River, page 266
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 269
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 270
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Revealed in Dark River, page 273
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Revealed in Dark River, page 274
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 272
|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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