|"So every cat has to suffer without water? Jayfeather is doing the best he can to keep his Clan going, Firestar, but there's a limit to what any medicine cat can do. Much more of this, and cats are going to die from thirst."|
|— Lionblaze in The Fourth Apprentice, page 92|
The drought in the lake territories, or the Long Dry, was a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a lack of average precipitation in the territories surrounding the lake. Alongside the absence of rain, the water upstream, which was the primary source of water for the Clan cats, was being blocked by beavers, drying the streams in ThunderClan, RiverClan, and ShadowClan territory.
Tensions between the Clans rose considerably during this time period, due to RiverClan claiming all the fish in what remained of the lake for themselves. ShadowClan and WindClan protested to this, saying that if they cannot eat the fish, they will starve. RiverClan increased the number of patrols and extended their territory into the lake, and their patrols were able to examine each side of the lake. This led to conflicts between patrols of differing Clans.
The lake had shrunk away into a small puddle, leaving every cat surprised, and it was now the only source of water for all the Clans. Even the river that housed RiverClan's camp was completely dry. Cats are worried that this will lead to the end of the Clans as the lake continues to shrink and the streams stay dried, and in addition to the heat, there was a lack of rain.
When a young ThunderClan apprentice, Dovepaw, saw animals blocking the stream and realized that those were the reasons that the stream was dry and the lake shrinking, Firestar announced an idea of sending a patrol to investigate what was blocking the streams. The Clans did this, and the patrol sent found beavers building a dam which blocked the water supply. The patrol was successful in destroying the dam, leaving water to fill the stream again. It also began to rain at the same time, putting an end to the season of extreme heat and dehydration.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Description
- 3 Characters
- 4 Legacy
- 5 Quotes
- 6 Trivia
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes and references
- The lake is shrinking, and even though it is green-leaf, there is no rain whatsoever. This causes strife between the Clans, as they are now extending their territories into the lake since it is so dry and they have no access to sources of water. The lake had shrunk away into the middle, leaving wide stretches of mud that dries and cracks in the merciless sun. Cats do not know how much longer they can go on like this, and they believe the end of the Clans is near.
- The Clans suffer a drought, nothing like they have ever seen before, resulting in very little water to the point that they can travel to the island where Gatherings are held through the lake, as there is no water. The heat affects every cat in each Clan, leading to fights. Dovepaw, recently made an apprentice, tells everyone that the lack of water is coming from strange brown creatures that are building something that is blocking the water supply. A patrol is made to find the brown creatures and destroy what they built, allowing the water to flow back into the lake and into the streams.
- It is night as the Clans attend the full moon Gathering. Lionblaze remarks that it should be cooler at night, and Graystripe mentions that the season just gets hotter and hotter, not being able to recall the last time it rained. Lionblaze tells the elder warrior that Jayfeather, the medicine cat, had said that StarClan had not told him anything about the drought, and he wonders if any of the other medicine cats have had a sign.
- When it is time for RiverClan to make their report at the Gathering, their leader, Leopardstar, instantly accuses the other Clans of being prey stealers. Lionblaze thinks that no cat would want to steal RiverClan's fish, but notices they are starving. He mentions this to Graystripe, who tells Lionblaze that they are all starving. Lionblaze realizes he is correct, as ThunderClan had to hunt and train at dawn and dusk in order to avoid the scorching heat of the day. During sunhigh, they slept. Lionblaze comes to the conclusion that the Clans are at peace, but it was because they were all too weak to fight, and they had no prey to fight for.
- Firestar asks Leopardstar to elaborate, and she retorts that all the Clans had been taking fish from the lake, but the fish belong to RiverClan. Onestar and Blackstar protest this, saying that they will starve if they cannot eat the fish. Leopardstar tells the two leaders who had responded to her that things were worse for RiverClan, as fish was their main diet, so it should belong to them. Despite being spoken up against by Squirrelflight, she once again claims the fish in the lake for RiverClan, and that any cat who tries to take it will be attacked. She announces that from that moment, she will instruct border patrols to patrol the water on every side.
- After almost being attacked by Leopardstar, who still claims that the fish is hers, Firestar declares the Gathering over, and leads his Clan home. On the way back to camp, Brambleclaw asks Firestar what they will do if they see RiverClan cats on their territory, as Leopardstar would indeed send her patrols. Firestar responds, saying that they need to think about this carefully. He asks Brambleclaw if the bottom of the lake is their territory, saying that they never would have thought of claiming it when it was covered with water. Firestar decides that they will not attack RiverClan warriors, not unless they set paw in ThunderClan territory within their scent marks. He orders Brambleclaw to make sure his patrols understand that.
- Lionblaze respects Firestar's decision, although he is not sure if it is the right one. Jayfeather, Lionblaze's brother, comes up to his side, and remarks that Leopardstar will never get away with her decision. Lionblaze asks Jayfeather if Leopardstar had lost a life, as he had heard some ShadowClan cats saying this. Jayfeather confirms this, and Lionblaze says that she never announced it. Jayfeather reprimands him, saying that it would make her Clan sound weak, and goes on to explain how she lost her lives - first from an infected thorn scratch, and then an illness that made her terribly thirsty and weak.
- The golden tabby murmurs that is probably why Leopardstar wants to claim all the fish for herself, to make her Clan look more strong. Jayfeather tells him that she is going about it the wrong way, and regardless, her Clan will suffer like the rest of them. Lionblaze meows hopefully that it might blow over, and Jayfeather tells him that the only thing that will solve their problem is the lake filling back up again.
- Cloudtail wakes Lionblaze up from a rather good dream. When Lionblaze protests that the white tom had woken him from a very good dream, Cloudtail tells him that he can go on a very good water patrol. Lionblaze is reminded of the fact that since the streams have dried up, the only source of water was a shallow pool in the middle of the lake. The water patrol consists of Cloudtail, Lionblaze, Hazeltail, Blossompaw, Berrynose, and Icecloud.
- The white tom leads the cats to collect bundles of moss, and when the task is completed, they head over to the lake. Lionblaze sees four cats across the mud, and recognizes them as RiverClan warriors. Cloudtail explains to the cats in his patrol that RiverClan cannot object to them taking water, and Firestar had already said that he did not want any fighting. He addresses Berrynose, asking if he understood. Berrynose nods, and Cloudtail adds to make sure he does not forget.
- With moss still in their mouths, the ThunderClan cats crawl through mud in order to get to the only source of water. However, they are blocked by a RiverClan patrol, consisting of Reedwhisker, Graymist, Otterheart, and Sneezepaw. Reedwhisker challenges Cloudtail, reminding him of Leopardstar's threat. Cloudtail calmly tells him that they are only there for water, and RiverClan cannot deny them that. He explains that the streams have dried up, and the lake is their only place to retrieve water.
- Berrynose talks back to the RiverClan cats, saying that they will take water whether they like it or not. The RiverClan cats instantly grow more hostile, with their claws sliding out, and Otterheart hissing to him that the lake belongs to them. Cloudtail orders Berrynose to keep his jaws shut, and Berrynose asks him if he is going to allow RiverClan to talk to them like that. Cloudtail threatens Berrynose, leaving Lionblaze shocked at the older warrior's mood. He reflects that the white warrior is brisk at times, but he had never seen him this angry at one of his own Clanmates. He realizes that it is because getting water for his Clan may be the most important thing to Cloudtail, with ThunderClan getting weaker and weaker by the day. Lionblaze wonders what would happen if RiverClan successfully prevented the three Clans from getting water - would they die out?
- Cloudtail apologies for Berrynose, and asks again to collect water. Reedwhisker reluctantly lets them, and the ThunderClan cats are able to collect water. However, the RiverClan cats breathe down their neck, much to Lionblaze's annoyance. He does not know how much longer the Clans can go on like this.
Fire breaks out
- Jayfeather feels the sun on his pelt, and thinks he can almost smell smoke. However, he suddenly realizes that there is an acrid scent in his nostrils, and that it is real smoke he is smelling. He launches himself towards where the smell is coming from, shouting that there is a fire. The gray medicine cat is frustrated, as he does not know where to attack it.
- Around him, Brackenfur starts to evacuate the elders' den. Firestar, Graystripe, and Squirrelflight come over. Firestar orders Jayfeather to find some cats to collect water to take the fire out, but Graystripe argues with that, saying it will take too long. He orders the cats to kick dust on the fire. Jayfeather hears the sounds of vigorous scraping, but still the fire rages. He is about to obey Firestar's order of collecting cats to go down to the lake, but he then hears the sound of several cats racing towards the fire.
- Jayfeather smells wet moss, hears a loud hissing sound, and smells the smoke, much stronger this time. He retreats, coughing. Lionblaze joins him, saying that if they had not come sooner, the entire camp could have caught on fire. Jayfeather asks him if he is sure that the fire is out, and Lionblaze replies that Firestar is checking. He sighs, saying that he supposes that he will have to go back to the lake to fetch more water, and explains to his brother the trouble the RiverClan cats had given them.
- The medicine cat listens to the cats around him carrying burnt debris out of the camp, the sharp scent making him cough again. He wonders painfully if the end of the Clans will be like this - like the lake shrinking, ordinary, frustrating, and bitterly, painfully slow.
Going back to the lake
- Ivypaw and Dovepaw, newly apprenticed, join their mentors, Cinderheart and Lionblaze, to go collect more water. On the way, Lionblaze explains the situation with RiverClan to the two apprentices. When Dovepaw first sees the lake, her jaw drops in disappointment as she realizes that it is just a bit of water in the center, and everything else is extremely muddy. She tells Lionblaze that she thought the lake was huge, and wonders why the warriors made a fuss of something that was little more than just a puddle.
- Lionblaze explains that the lake used to stretch to where the cats were at the moment, saying that it is only because of the drought that it had shrunk so much. Cinderheart adds that the drought means there had not been any Twolegs through greenleaf, saying that it was not all that bad. Ivypaw asks what happens if the lake will shrink away all together, to which Cinderheart replies that it will not, although Dovepaw notices an uncertain look she and Lionblaze exchange. Cinderheart adds that it is bound to rain soon.
- The four cats walk closer to the lake, in which they encounter Thornclaw, who reports that Berrynose and Spiderleg are stuck in mud. When the two cats are released, Ivypaw travels further into the lake and sniffs at a dead fish. She is instantly accused of stealing prey by a RiverClan warrior, Rainstorm. He races over to Ivypaw, but accidentally trips into a mud hole. He sinks into the hole, but Lionblaze is able to rescue him from drowning altogether. Although he is rescued, he is still weak, and Cinderheart wonders what they will do with him. Thornclaw tells Rainstorm he can come back to their camp and stay until he is fit to travel.
Rainstorm and a possible bargain
- Thornclaw and Lionblaze bring Rainstorm back to camp, while Lionblaze explains what had happened to Firestar. Thornclaw tells Firestar that he has an idea - they had saved a RiverClan warrior's life, and they could possibly send a message to Leopardstar, saying that she can only have Rainstorm back if she sends ThunderClan some fish. When protested by Rainstorm, Thornclaw tells him that they deserve a reward for helping him.
- There is discord among the Clan as they discuss Thornclaw's idea. Some cats disagree vehemently, as RiverClan's fish seems to be disgusting. However, other cats agree, saying that it may tell Leopardstar that she cannot extend her territory to the lake and she cannot tell other Clans what to do. Finally, Brambleclaw asks for Firestar's opinion. Firestar apologizes to Thornclaw, saying he cannot agree with the idea, as there is nothing in the warrior code that allows other Clans to bargain with one another, especially using a cat.
- The next day, Lionblaze is chosen to be part of the patrol that escorts Rainstorm back to RiverClan's camp. Lionblaze brings Dovepaw with him, and explains to her the issue about the lake as they travel. He tells her that water had flown constantly into the lake, but now most of it is gone. Dovepaw asks if that is the reason the lake has shrunk, and Lionblaze replies partly. She questions why the streams are gone, and Lionblaze replies that no cat knows. He notices Dovepaw staring upstream, locked into deep concentration. However, she is knocked out of it by Lionblaze.
- They return Rainstorm to RiverClan's camp, but not without tension. As they leave, Dovepaw asks Lionblaze if he had noticed the sick cat in RiverClan's camp.
- While sharing prey, Millie wonders how long this drought will go on for. Graystripe tells her that only StarClan knows, which Spiderleg says that StarClan should do something about it. He asks if they expect them to survive without water, and Hazeltail adds that there is hardly any water left in the lake, and that the stream between ThunderClan and ShadowClan has dried up. Mousewhisker asks where all the water has gone.
- Dovepaw is puzzled, and asks them why they do not know that the stream has dried up, as she has noticed brown animals building something that blocked the stream. When she reports this, Spiderleg stares at her and asks her what brown animals. Dovepaw replies that there are brown animals dragging tree trunks and branches into the stream. Every cat is now staring at Dovepaw, looking confused. Lionblaze asks Dovepaw what she is talking about. Still flabbergasted at why no cat believes her, Dovepaw elaborates, saying that there are brown animals making a barrier in the stream, which is stopping the water from flowing, and that Twolegs are watching them.
- Instantly, every cat begins to doubt the idea, some even making fun of it. Spiderleg tells Lionblaze to tell his apprentice to not make things up, and even Whitewing, Dovepaw's mother, becomes irritated. She tells Dovepaw that this is a game to play with her sister, but not with her Clan. Dovepaw retorts that she is not making it up, and she asks anyone if they can hear them. She denies the question that she dreamed it, and she becomes increasingly more frustrated that every cat does not seem to believe her, not even her father or her sister. When every cat leaves, Dovepaw sees her mentor, who orders her to follow him.
Tell him what you saw
- Lionblaze fetches Jayfeather, and Dovepaw tells the medicine cat what the brown animals looked like. She says that she knows what they look like, but she cannot see them. She says that they are brown, with stiff fur and flat tails, and they have big front teeth, in which they use to cut the tree and branches.
- Her mentor explains more to Jayfeather about what else she has seen, and this leaves the two to conclude that she is the third cat of the Kin of your Kin prophecy.
Proposing a patrol
- Lionblaze reports to Firestar the story Dovepaw told. The two muse over possible suggestions, but in the end they conclude that Dovepaw's 'brown animal' story is the suggestion that makes the most sense. Lionblaze asks to lead a patrol upstream to investigate, but Firestar does not allow him to do so. He says they do not know for a fact what caused the blockage, and that Blackstar may possibly claw their ears off for crossing through his territory.
- The golden-furred tabby asks Firestar if every cat has to suffer without water now. He tells Firestar that Jayfeather is doing everything he can to keep the Clan going, but if there is any more of the situation they are in, cats will die of thirst. Firestar finally accepts, but he adjusts the conditions so that there will be a cat from each Clan on the patrol. Lionblaze asks if that would work, and Firestar replies with that they are all suffering from the lack of water, so it makes sense for them to work together. He says he will announce the idea at the next Gathering.
- At the next Gathering, Firestar begins it immediately, saying that they are all suffering from the lack of water. He says that the problem is getting worse, and that there is a possibility there is a blockage upstream. He suggests sending a patrol to go upstream, but Blackstar instantly denies it, saying that they will be crossing through ShadowClan territory and he will not allow that. Firestar tells him that he was thinking of sending cats from all Clans to investigate the blockage. Onestar asks him if he really thinks it will bring the water back, and Firestar says that it is worth a try.
- Initially, Leopardstar refuses to join the patrol, saying that it is only because ThunderClan wants to steal fish. However, her deputy, Mistyfoot, talks to her, and then announces that RiverClan will send cats on the patrol. Firestar thanks Leopardstar, and says that they will find water, that the Clans must survive.
- Cats are chosen from each Clan, Dovepaw and Lionblaze from ThunderClan, Tigerheart and Toadfoot from ShadowClan, Petalfur and Rippletail from RiverClan, and Whitetail and Sedgewhisker from WindClan.
- After being given travel advice by Brambleclaw, and being wished good luck from the deputies, the traveling cats leave, intent on finding what is causing the lack of water and fixing it.
In the meantime
- While the cats travel, back at the lake, cats continues to take ownership of the little water left, getting into fights with every patrol that encounters them. Tensions continue to build up within the Clans.
- Jayfeather hears Breezepelt shouting at a ThunderClan patrol to leave their part of the lake, and Berrynose tells him to make them get out. Hearing this, Jayfeather instantly intervenes, knowing that a fight was the last thing they needed. He thrusts himself between the two cats and orders them to stop, asking what value the lakebed has for any Clan. Breezepelt snarls at him, saying that he would say that, as a half-Clan cat. Shocked by the hatred, Jayfeather steps back, asking what that has to do with anything. Breezepelt inches closer, telling him that Jayfeather's mother betrayed Breezepelt's father as well as his Clan, and that Jayfeather had no right to be a medicine cat. He adds that he will never forgive him for what he has done.
- Berrynose offers to claw Breezepelt's ears off for Jayfeather, but he is too stunned to say anything. Ashfoot interferes, telling Jayfeather to stay off their territory to avoid future misunderstandings.
- It begins to rain while the journeying patrol is gone, making the cats behind relieved and excited. Thunder crashes, and the rain turns into a downpour, cascading from the sky.
Returning of the patrol
- The journeying cats realized that the brown animals were beavers, and were able to dislodge the dam they had made, letting water flow back into the lake and into the streams. When traveling back to ThunderClan's camp, Lionblaze and Dovepaw splash through the streams. Although it is not quite full yet, they still get wet.
- After reporting to Firestar, Dovepaw and Ivypaw walk towards the lakeshore. It had been raining, but it had ceased, and the air is damp and fresh. Dovepaw asks if it looks closer, and Ivypaw confirms that it does.
- Firestar is the Clan leader who is shown to do more about the drought than any other cat, and to do it peacefully. He does protest against Leopardstar's claim to keep the fish for her Clan, but unlike Onestar and Blackstar, he does not allow his Clan to hunt the fish. He also announces that he will not have his cats attack any RiverClan patrols that travel within three tail lengths of their territory, despite other Clans saying that they will attack if they touch paw on their territory. He listens to Lionblaze's account of Dovepaw's story, and agrees to send a patrol to investigate what is causing the lack of water, but as long as there are cats from each Clan.
- Like the other warriors, Lionblaze does his best to contribute to his Clan through the scorching heat, but not without commenting about it. He gains a new apprentice, Dovepaw, and listens to what she says about the brown animals, and is the only one to take it seriously. He tells Firestar this, and is chosen to go on the patrol to investigate the brown animals blocking the stream. Due to his belief in Dovepaw, he and his patrol are able to dislodge the dam and return the flow of water to the streams back in the lake territories.
- Dovepaw is the only cat to know what is stopping the flow of water. She mentions seeing brown animals with flat tails building something made of trees and twigs on the stream, and when talking about this, she is not taken seriously. Instead, she is reprimanded by both her parents, her sister, and her Clanmates. But when telling this story to her mentor, Lionblaze, he takes it seriously and reports it to Firestar. When Firestar decides to send a patrol to investigate, Dovepaw is chosen along with Lionblaze. She, Lionblaze, and the rest of the patrol are successful in breaking the dam and having water flow back into the streams.
- Extremely troubled by the lack of water, and insisting on the remaining fish in what used to be the lake her Clan's, she claims it as her territory. Her reasoning includes the fact that fish is the only part of RiverClan's territory, which sparks outrage between the Clans. She instructs patrols to extend their scouting deeper into the lake, and across other Clan's territories, leading to more challenges. Originally, she refuses to send cats to see what is blocking the water, but after being reasoned with her deputy, she finally allows two cats to go.
- In the days following the drought, cats are unable to taste the parched wind of the drought, but instead the green freshness of the forest. There is peace within ThunderClan's camp, as if the drought never happened. It is also mentioned that after so many moons of drought, the elders could not complain about not having any water, as there was enough water from the new rain to fill the lake even if every stream dried up again.
- "I know. The season just gets hotter and hotter. I can't even remember when it last rained."
- ―Graystripe The Fourth Apprentice, page 6
- "Will the end of the Clans be like this? Just like the lake is shrinking? So ordinary, and frustrating, and so bitterly, painfully slow?"
- ―Jayfeather's thoughts The Fourth Apprentice, page 32
- "I thought the lake was huge! Not just that little bit of water over there."
- ―Dovepaw The Fourth Apprentice, page 41
- "Water flowed constantly into the lake, but now most of it is gone."
- ―Lionblaze The Fourth Apprentice, page 56
- Millie: "I don't know how much longer this drought can go on. How many more days without rain?"
- Graystripe: "Only StarClan knows."
- The Fourth Apprentice, pages 69-70
- "We will find the water! The Clans must survive!"
- ―Firestar The Fourth Apprentice, page 105
- "The drought is over. The Clans will survive!"
- ―Dovepaw's thoughts The Fourth Apprentice, page 294
- This drought is known as a meteorological drought, where there is a lack of rain through a prolonged period of time.
- The beavers building the dam changed the ecosystem of the lake territories for most of greenleaf.
Notes and references
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 1
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 8
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 23
- Revealed in Bramblestar's Storm, chapter 6
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 18
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter4
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 5
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 3
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 4
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 16
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 22
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 25
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 2
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 9
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 6
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 10
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 11
- Revealed in The Fourth Apprentice, chapter 14
- Revealed in Fading Echoes, chapter 1
- Revealed in Fading Echoes, chapter 2
- Revealed in Fading Echoes, chapter 10