|"Oh, Lionpaw. What have we done?"|
|— Heatherpaw to Lionpaw when they are searching for the kits in Dark River, page 290|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter eighteen of Dark River. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 18 (of 21)
- Page Numbers: 276-290
- Lionpaw shivers as rain soaks through his fur, reaching his skin. He drops his vole on the fresh-kill pile and shakes water from his pelt. Ashfur congratulates him on how well he did, saying that he's improved a lot the past few days, it seems like his mind is on training again. Lionpaw blinks at his mentor, thinking it had been a good hunting patrol, he, Ashfur, Stormfur, and Brook had caught nearly enough to feed the whole Clan, and it is great to feel energetic again, faster, and a little sharper than his Clanmates, but his heart still aches when he thinks of Heatherpaw, he misses playing with her and being a DarkClan warrior.
- Stormfur tosses a wet blackbird onto the pile, and mews something is wrong, glancing around the clearing anxiously, beside him, Brook narrows her eyes. Cinderpaw is tugging twigs toward the thorn barrier where Cloudtail is stuffing them into gaps, Poppypaw and Mousepaw hurriedly patch the nursery with fresh brambles, their rain soaked pelt spiked and tails bushed out. Thornclaw and Spiderleg are circling the edge of camp, staring up through the rain at the walls. Thornclaw flicks his tail toward a rift in the cliff face where rocks jut out, mewing they should reinforce the top because it's too easy for cats to climb down. Lionpaw's belly tightens, then scans the clearing, wondering if Jaypaw has safely returned from his mission. Relief washes his pelt when he spots Jaypaw emerge from the dirtplace tunnel, heading to where Leafpool is calling him from the medicine den, saying they need more dock, at once, Jaypaw answers he'll go find some, but Leafpool meows not by himself. Jaypaw nods, saying he'll take Hollypaw with him.
- Lionpaw's paws throb with unease, thinking about how his brother normally bristles with rage when it is suggested he can't manage alone; now he accepts without a murmur. Leafpool warns Jaypaw to not go far from camp, and Honeypaw charges at Lionpaw, eyes wide as she demands if he heard there's going to be a battle. Lionpaw asks when, hurrying to meet her, and Honeypaw pants that WindClan is going to attack RiverClan right now. Lionpaw flattens his ears, wondering if RiverClan has invaded WindClan territory. Honeypaw shakes her head, mewing that RiverClan stole three of WindClan's kits and WindClan is going get them back, ThunderClan needs to be ready to fight. Lionpaw tenses, thinking that there aren't many kits in WindClan at the moment, worrying they could be the same kits who had followed Heatherpaw to the tunnels, he asks Honeypaw if she's sure RiverClan took them, and she tells him RiverClan was hunting in WindClan territory when the kits went missing.
- Lionpaw's mind whirls as he says that doesn't make sense. Honeypaw trots around him, asking why does it matter if it makes sense, there's going to be a huge battle anyway, Leafpool said so. Sorreltail is heading toward them, eyes clouded with worry, telling Honeypaw she's jumping ahead of herself. Honeypaw argues that they have to be ready, who knows what WindClan will do next. Lionpaw backs away from the two cats, his heart pounding. He wonders if RiverClan really stole the kits, or if they had found themselves in the tunnels.
- He jumps when Spiderleg's voice sounds behind him, who is stretching and flexing his muscles, telling Lionpaw he should eat, he must be ready for battle at any moment. Lionpaw protests that WindClan is fighting RiverClan, not ThunderClan. Spiderleg growls that anything could happen, RiverClan might chase WindClan off the moor, they might decide to accuse ThunderClan of taking the kits instead, Leafpool told Firestar that WindClan is desperate enough to do anything. Lionpaw freezes, thinking he must find the kits, he must stop this. He is torn between defending his Clan; he should help fortify the camp like Cloudtail and Cinderpaw, or join a patrol to check the border, or what if WindClan attacked while he was gone.
- Tigerstar's voice sounds in his head, telling him this is Lionpaw's chance to prove himself a true warrior, the kits mean nothing, he needs to think of his Clan. Lionpaw argues that he is thinking of his Clan, shaking his head to clear away Tigerstar's voice from his mind. Cats could be injured and some may die, he can't let this happen. He shudders at the thought of Heatherpaw caught in the midst of the fighting. If the kits are only lost in the tunnels, the battle will be for nothing. Brambleclaw calls Lionpaw's name, padding toward him, telling him to get something to eat and help with preparations, Firestar is organizing extra patrols and the barrier needs to be strengthened. Lionpaw blinks at his father, his belly churning, and says he's not hungry.
- Brambleclaw shifts his paws, asking him if he's scared. Lionpaw opens his mouth, searching for words to explain, and Brambleclaw takes this as a yes, mewing softly that it's natural, he used to worry about seeing his Clanmates wounded, but defending the Clan is part of the warrior code; it's what they've trained for. He carries on that he knows it's tough, but they're doing the right thing in the eyes of StarClan. He runs his tail along Lionpaw's flank, mewing he has the makings of a warrior, and he's proud of him, he just needs to remember what he's been taught to stay sharp. Lionpaw asks if they really need to fight, and Brambleclaw murmurs if his leader tells him to, then yes, Firestar will not lead any cat into battle unless he believes it's the right thing to do. Lionpaw silently protests that Firestar doesn't know everything, and he suddenly feels weary, wishing he never knew about the tunnels, then he could be ordered without question. He miserably nods at Brambleclaw and pads over to the fresh-kill pile, feeling sick at the sight of prey piled there as if it is just an ordinary day.
- Icekit wonders why she and Foxkit can't fight, her small mew wailing across the clearing, and Foxkit hisses he doesn't want to wait here until WindClan comes and shreds ThunderClan. Their mother, Ferncloud sternly tells them they'd only get in the way, sweeping her tail over them and shooing them back toward the nursery, saying the best way they can help is hide inside their den until the danger has passed, their time for fighting will come, but not this moon. Lionpaw watches Ferncloud nudge them through the den entrance, thinking it isn't just the kits who are in danger, he can't possibly put his Clanmates at risk, not when there is he can do about it.
- Narrowing his eyes against the rain, he veers away from the fresh-kill pile and heads past the medicine den, slipping in among the brambles and pushing his way through the camp wall. He reaches the first ledge and scrambles onto it, then continues until he claws his way to the top, panting with effort as he hauls himself over. Lionpaw crouches in the rain soaked grass, catching his breath and peeps over the busy camp below. No cat has noticed him leave, still busy preparing camp for battle.
- Lionpaw creeps into the trees and begins to run down the slope, heading toward the tunnel entrance. Suddenly, voices sound from behind a clump of ferns and Lionpaw squeezes between the dripping stems and peers out to see his siblings looking for herbs, Jaypaw is advising Hollypaw to pick the juiciest leaves, while Hollypaw sits beside him, stripping leaves from a small plant and piling them onto the wet ground. Jaypaw lifts his nose as he catches Lionpaw's scent, calling out to his brother. Lionpaw straightens and pushes his way out, shaking water drops from his pelt. Hollypaw asks what he's doing here, if they need to return to camp, green eyes flashing with surprise. Lionpaw shakes his head, blurting he thinks he knows where the kits are. Paw steps pound on the forest floor nearby, and Lionpaw ducks back into the ferns, crouching down among the stems, while his siblings stare at him in surprise, then exchange a glance with each other as Thornclaw and Whitewing race out of the trees.
- Thornclaw tells the two apprentices to hurry, and Lionpaw ducks farther as Hollypaw glances at the ferns where he is hiding, her eyes glittering with suspicion, and he wonders if she will give him away. Whitewing flicks her tail, wondering if everything is all right, and Jaypaw firmly answer yes, they've just got a few more leaves to pick and then they'll go back to camp. Thornclaw nods, mewing they're heading up to the ridge to see if there's any sign of WindClan, they may be able to see if there's any sign of WindClan, and they may be able to see if they've begun their attack on RiverClan.
- Whitewing suddenly sniffs the air, meowing it smells like Lionpaw's been here. Jaypaw plucks another dock leaf from the soggy plant in front of him, mewing Lionpaw was here, telling them to hurry up. Thornclaw asks if he's gone back to camp, and Jaypaw replies he supposes so. Whitewing tells them to not be long, padding to the fern where Lionpaw is crouching. He holds his breath, praying that his golden fur won't show through the green leaves. Thornclaw bounds up the slope toward the ridge, and Whitewing turns and pelts after him.
- Once the warriors are gone, Hollypaw demands why Lionpaw hid as he slides out of the ferns. Lionpaw whispers they must not know what he's up to, and Jaypaw's tail twitches, asking what is he up to, and Hollypaw narrows her eyes, wondering what's this about the kits. Lionpaw takes a deep breath and announces there are tunnels under ThunderClan's territory. Jaypaw echoes his brother, pelt standing on end, and Lionpaw explains they lead onto the moor into WindClan territory, they can travel right through if they want, the kits followed Heatherpaw to the tunnel entrance once and he thinks that's where they might be. Hollypaw stares at him in horror, mewing he told her he stopped seeing Heatherpaw.
- Lionpaw steps backward as his sister digs her claws into the earth as though she is trying to stop herself from raking his pelt. She says he lied to her and his Clanmates, and she goes on that she always thought he was the most loyal of them, and now he's betrayed his Clan. Lionpaw mews he hasn't betrayed them, he stopped meeting Heatherpaw now, and they were just playing, but then he realized, Hollypaw cuts him off, snapping that an enemy Clan knows a secret way into their territory, and she asks if he was ever going to tell anyone, or if he was just going to sit around and watch his little friend lead her Clnmates to their camp. Lionpaw glares at his sister, saying he would never have let that happen. Jaypaw weaves between them, telling them to calm down, it's done now. He swings his head toward his sister, mewing Lionpaw isn't the only cat who has made mistakes this moon, she's still in trouble for trying to help Willowpaw. Hollypaw growls that was different, but she shifts her paws as she speaks. Jaypaw mews there's no time to argue, then asks Lionpaw if he's sure the kits are in the tunnels.
- Lionpaw mews not definite, but it seems most likely, and he glances anxiously at his sister, wondering if she'll help him find them. Hollypaw's tail quivers and she agrees, she doesn't want WindClan attacking RiverClan, not when they're so close to solving their problem. Lionpaw blinks, asking what she means. The fur on Hollypaw's spine ripples and she says she promised not to tell, and Jaypaw demands who she promised to, and Hollypaw answers to Leopardstar and Willowpaw. Jaypaw argues that they're kin, they have to stop keeping secrets from one another, that's not how it's meant to be. Hollypaw's eyes glitter with uncertainty and she takes a deep breath, telling them the problem with RiverClan's camp, how it's being threatened by Twoleg kits, and how the RiverClan cats are making the stream wider and deeper to keep them away, she saw if herself, and they should be back in their old camp by the next Gathering. Her paws are trembling, and she mews she promised not to tell, but it doesn't seem right, everything has gone wrong. Lionpaw lifts his chin, saying no it hasn't, they're going to stop the battle, and Hollypaw wonders how, and Lionpaw answers by finding the kits.
- Jaypaw pads to his brothers side, asking where are the tunnels, and how do they get in. Lionpaw tells them to follow him as he heads into the trees, and he breaks into a run, checking over his shoulder to make sure that his siblings are keeping up, they weave after him, skidding to a halt on the slippery leaves beside him as they reach the bottom of the slope where the tunnel opens to the forest. Hollypaw squints over the swath of brambles, wondering where it's at. Lionpaw flicks his tail toward the rabbit hole. Hollypaw is surprised, mewing it's no wonder why no one has noticed it before. Jaypaw is sniffing the air, as though searching for something, his tail quivering. Lionpaw frowns, asking if he's been here before, and Jaypaw says he doesn't think so, his ears twitching. Lionpaw wonders why he seems afraid, but there's no time to worry. Lionpaw squeezes under the brambles, telling them to follow, and he pushes his way through; now easier after all of his visits, although a few new branches have grown in since last time and he has to duck as they scratch his ears. Jaypaw stays close behind him, his nose brushing Lionpaw's tail.
- Lionpaw meows the entrance is here, scrambling out of the bushes and guiding Jaypaw to the hole in the side of the hill. He stops beside it and sniffs the familiar scent of the musty air flowing from the tunnel. Hollypaw scrabbles out of the brambles after them and stares doubtfully at the hole. Rain drips from her fur and each ear is tipped with a quivering raindrop, and she asks if they go in here. Lionpaw nods, and Jaypaw sounds wary as he asks what about the rain. Lionpaw is puzzled, thinking Jaypaw would be happy to get out of the downpour, and says that it won't be raining inside the tunnel. Jaypaw flattens his ears and sniffs the entrance, asking if he's been here before in the rain. Lionpaw is growing impatient, saying no, they have to find the kits before the battle starts, and he squeezes into the entrance and starts to pad quickly along with familiar tunnel.
- Hollypaw calls for him to wait, saying it's too dark to see where she's going. Lionpaw waits while his siblings catch up. The are both moving cautiously, their paw steps pattering unevenly on the rocky floor. He thinks Jaypaw will surely be able to travel through the tunnels more easily than them since he is used to darkness. Lionpaw reassures them that there's a cave up ahead where there's a gap in the roof so it'll be lighter there. He moves on, slower this time and he can hear Jaypaw sniffing the air and Hollypaw's fur brushing the walls.
- Hollypaw asks if the tunnels really lead all the way to WindClan territory, her mew echoing eerily in the darkness, and she asks if he's been that far. Lionpaw answers he's only ever been as far as the cave, then he freezes as he smells familiar scents up ahead, realizing it's WindClan, and he wonders if Heatherpaw's already led a patrol into the tunnels. Jaypaw's breath stirs the fur on his ear, mewing he knows there are WindClan cats up ahead. Lionpaw sighs yes. Hollypaw whispers maybe they should go back, they don't want WindClan to realize they know about the tunnels, it would ruin ThunderClan's advantage. Lionpaw's heart feels as heavy as stone as he thinks Heatherpaw betrayed their secret, and mews they probably know already. He pads toward the dim light and steps into the cave. In the gloom, he makes out Heatherpaw on the other side of the river, Breezepaw pacing the edge of the cave behind her, sniffing each tunnel in turn, saying he's lost their scent. Heatherpaw mews Lionpaw's name, sounding surprised. Breezepaw spins around to face Lionpaw, hissing. Heatherpaw's gaze darts anxiously toward her Clanmates as she goes on, asking how did he know about this place.
- Lionpaw understands at once, she is pretending she has never met him here before. Lionpaw thinks it's a sensible plan, but it feels wrong to act like strangers after they have shared so much time here. He lies he found it by accident. His siblings creep out of the tunnel behind him, and Lionpaw goes on that he was chasing a rabbit and it led him down a hole and he ended up here, and he flashes Hollypaw a warning glance. Breezepaw's pelt bristles, asking if the tunnels lead to ThunderClan territory as well. Heatherpaw mews she didn't realize, she's only been as far as the cave before, her eyes wide. Breezepaw demands what the ThunderClan cats are doing here, and Hollypaw pads in front of Lionpaw, lifting her chin, mewing they heard the kits were missing, and Lionpaw guessed they might be here. Breezepaw flexes his claws, asking how he knows there's another entrance to WindClan territory. Lionpaw shrugs, saying it was just a guess, there are so many tunnels, they may even lead to ShadowClan territory as far as he knows.
- Breezepaw stares at him, and the damp stuffy air is thick with mistrust, and he asks if there is any scent of the kits in their tunnel. Hollypaw says no, her voice taut, and Heatherpaw explains they followed their trail here, but it's disappeared. Jaypaw has cautiously crept forward and is sniffing at the river; it's usually sleek surface is rippling, as though blown by the wind, and dark water laps over the edges, forming pools in the dimpled rock, and he asks if it's always this high. Heatherpaw answers only after it's been raining. Jaypaw asks if it gets higher, and Heatherpaw tips her head on one side, puzzled, mewing she doesn't think so. Lionpaw feels hot with embarrassment, wondering why Jaypaw has to be so fussy about the rain, he just wants to find the kits and get out of the tunnels.
- Breezepaw paces around his Clanmate, mewing that these intruders may as well go home, they're looking for the kits, there's no need for them to help, and he glares at Lionpaw, asking why is he bothered about the WindClan kits anyway. Hollypaw flicks her tail, saying there's going to be a battle, has he not heard. Heatherpaw snaps if they can stop chatting and get on wit the search. Breezepaw shoots her an angry look, asking what about the ThunderClan cats. Heatherpaw mews they may as well let them come with them, how are they going to carry the kits by themselves. Before Breezepaw can answer, she heads for the tunnel nearest to her, saying they have to find the kits before any of their CLanmates get hurt. Hollypaw agrees, leaping over the river and glances back at Jaypaw, telling him the water is about two foxtails wide. Jaypaw crouches, preparing to jump, and Lionpaw notices his paws are trembling, and he silently prays for his brother to make it, and tenses, ready to dive into the water if he has to, but Jaypaw springs high over the river, clearing it with a tail-length to spare. As Lionpaw jumps after him, Heatherpaw ducks out of the tunnel she has been sniffing, saying they haven't been this way.
- Lionpaw creeps into another dark opening, tasting the air, but finding no scent. Jaypaw is crouching in front of a narrow entrance, whiskers twitching, and meowing this way. Hollypaw pushes past him, peering at the ground, mewing he is right, there's a paw print. Lionpaw squeezes past her to look, where he sees that on the silty ground there is a fresh paw print. He glances up and meets Heatherpaw's gaze, fear glitters in them, and she whispers to him, asking what have they done.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Revealed in Dark River, page 276
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Revealed in Dark River, page 277
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 281
- ↑ Revealed in an unknown book, page 276
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 278
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Revealed in Dark River, page 279
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Revealed in Dark River, page 280
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Revealed in Dark River, page 287
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 283
- ↑ Revealed in Dark River, page 284
|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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