|"...We'll catch prey in our territory and bring it to you, until the floods have gone down and the river is clean. "|
|— Fireheart to Crookedstar in Forest of Secrets, page 134|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twelve of Forest of Secrets. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 12 (of 30)
- Page Numbers: 124-135
- Graystripe yowls as he launches himself after a drowning kit, and Fireheart loses sight of them in the river. The remaining tiny cat on the mat squeals desperately, trying to cling to the twigs as they are forced apart by the current. With the last of his strength, Fireheart drives himself forward to grab the kit's scruff before kicking out towards the shore. Within moments, the warrior feels stones under his paws and manages to stand shakily on the riverbank. He is stone-limbed with weariness, and staggers out to drop the black kit at the edge of the flood. Fireheart sees that the kit's eyes are closed, and he isn't sure if it is alive. He glances downstream, and spots Graystripe splashing out of the shallows with the gray kit gripped firmly in his teeth.
- The gray warrior sets down his wet bundle on the ground, and Fireheart noses both kits. He notes that even though they were both lying very still, the kits were alive due to the faint rise and fall of their flanks. Fireheart thanks StarClan for keeping them all alive, then begins to lick the black kit as he had seen mothers to for their young in the nursery, rasping his tongue against the fur to rouse the kit and warm it. Graystripe sits beside his friend and does the same for the gray kit, and soon both kits cough up river water and open their eyes. Graystripe exclaims that they're alive, his voice filled with relief. Fireheart points out that they won't live long without their mother, and sniffs the black kit. He detects a trace of RiverClan scent even though the river had washed most of it away, and is unsurprised when he mews to Graystripe that they'll have to take them home.
- Fireheart's courage almost deserts him a the thought of crossing the swollen river again, because he had almost drowned rescuing the kits, and feels exhausted. His limbs are cold and stiff, and the ginger warrior wants nothing more than to curl up in his nest to sleep for a moon. Graystripe looks the same way, with his thick gray fur plastered against him and his eyes filled with anxiety. The gray warrior asks if they can get across, and Fireheart forces himself to his paws, meowing that they have to or the kits will die. He picks up the black kit and heads downstream, saying they should try to cross by the stepping-stones. Graystripe pads after him, carrying the gray kit through the wet grass at the edge of the floodwater.
- Fireheart thinks that when the water was at it's usual level, the stepping-stones were an easy route across for the RiverClan cats. He knows the largest leap is only a tail length, and they controlled the territory on both sides. Fireheart sees that the rising water completely covered the stones, but where they had broken the surface a dead, bark-stripped tree lay across the river. He guesses some of the branches must've gotten caught on the submerged stones, and he exclaims to Graystripe that they can use it to cross. Fireheart adjusts his grip on his kit and starts to wade out to the splintered end of the tree trunk. The kit sees the water rushing a mouse-length below it, and begins to mewl and struggle feebly. Graystripe gently growls for them to stay still as he adjusts his grip, commenting that they're going to go find their mother now.
- Fireheart isn't sure if the kit is old enough to understand, but the kit goes limp, making it easier to carry. He has to keep his head lifted high to keep the tiny creature out of the water as he flounders towards the tree, and finally reaches it without swimming. Fireheart springs upward, scrabbling for a grip on the wet, rotting wood. Once he pulls himself up, the ginger warrior's main concern is keeping a grip on the smooth, slippery trunk. He gingerly places his paws in a straight line and pads toward the opposite bank with the river churning beneath him. Fireheart thinks that it sucks at the tree as if it wanted to sweep it, and it's burden of cats, away downstream. The warrior glances back and sees Graystripe following with the gray kit, determination creasing his face. At the far end of the tree, Fireheart ducks to avoid a tangle of branches. He tries to be careful not to get the kit's fur caught on splinters, and notes that it's harder to find paw-holds as the branches tapered. Fireheart runs out of anything that might bear his weight when there'a still gap of a few fox-lengths separating him from the far side of the river, so he takes a deep breath, flexes his hindlegs, and leaps.
- When he lands, his front paws hit the bank while his back paws kick madly in the rushing current. The black kit starts to struggle again, and Fireheart keeps his teeth clenched in it's neck fur as he scrabbles upwards to stand safely on the bank. His front claws sink into the soft earth as he lurches forward a few paces to set the kit down gently. Glancing around, he spots Graystripe pulling himself out of the river a little way downstream. The gray warrior shakes himself, and lowers his kit to the ground as he comments that the floodwater tastes foul. Fireheart suggests that he look on the bright side -- that the water will disguise his scent. He tells Graystripe that RiverClan can't know he's the warrior trespassing on their land, because if they found out it would be bad.
- Fireheart breaks off as three RiverClan cats -- Leopardfur, Blackclaw, and Stonefur, emerge out of the bushes just beyond Graystripe. He picks up the black kit, and pads along the bank to stand beside Graystripe. The gray warrior hauls himself to his paws, and the two cats set down their burdens, then they both turn to face their enemies. Fireheart wonders if the patrol had heard what he's said to Graystripe, because he knew he and his friend were to exhausted to stand up to strong, fresh warriors. His head spins as he tries to summon energy for a fight into his frozen paws, but to his relief, the RiverClan cats halt a few tail-lengths away. Leopardfur growls ask she questions what this is, and her ears flatten. Beside her, Blackclaw snarls and asks why the ThunderClan warriors are trespassing on their territory. Fireheart quietly mews that they aren't trespassing, but actually have pulled two RiverClan kits from the river and want to bring them home. Graystripe points out that they didn't almost drown just for fun, and Stonefur paces forward to sniff the kits. The RiverClan warrior's eyes widen as he says it's true, and that these are in fact Mistyfoot's missing kits.
- Fireheart stiffens in amazement, and thinks that he'd heard Mistyfoot recently bore kits, but he didn't know the ones he and Graystripe rescued were hers. He is even more thankful he was able to save the kits' lives, but knows he can't let the RiverClan cats know the queen has ThunderClan friends. When Leopardfur hears his answer, she doesn't relax the fur on her shoulders as she snarls that they don't know they rescued the kits, because they could've been trying to steal them. Fireheart stares at her, and can't believe after they'd risked their lives in the floodwater he and Graystripe were being accused of stealing kits. He spits that she's a mouse-brain to think that, because no ThunderClan cat tried to steal kits when the river was frozen over. Fireheart questions why the deputy would think they were doing it now, because they'd nearly drowned. Leopardfur looks thoughtful, but Blackclaw stalks up to the ginger warrior and thrusts his head aggressively in his face. Fireheart snarls, ready to counter a blow when the RiverClan deputy tells him sharply to back off. She says that they will let the ThunderClan cats explain themselves to Crookedstar, and see if he believes them.
- Fireheart starts to protest, because he knows they would have to go with the RiverClan cats in their exhausted state. He thinks that he and Graystripe would have no hope of winning fight, and notes that at least Graystripe would be able to check on Silverstream. Fireheart meows to Leopardfur that that's alright, and hopes the RiverClan leader can see the truth when it's in front of his nose. The RiverClan deputy leads the way along the bank, and Blackclaw picks up one kit, stalking threateningly alongside Fireheart and Graystripe. Stonefur brings up the rear of the patrol, carrying the remaining kit. When they reach the island where RiverClan's camp was, Fireheart sees that a wide channel of racing water separates it from the ridge of dry ground, wrenching at the overhanging boughs of willow trees. He notes that no cats were visible through the reeds, and spots silver water lapping among the bushes that concealed the camp.
- The RiverClan deputy's eyes widen in alarm, and she states that the water has risen since they left camp. A yowl sounds from the top of the slope, and a voice calls for Leopardfur. Fireheart turns to see Crookedstar emerge from the shelter of bushes with his coat soaked, fur sticking out in all directions, and his twisted jaw making him look like he was mocking the ThunderClan cats. Leopardfur demands to know what happened, and the RiverClan leader replies in a voice flat with defeat that the camp has flooded, so they've moved up in the forest. As he speaks, two or three more cats emerge curiously from the bushes, and Fireheart notices Graystripe brighten when he sees Silverstream. Crookedstar narrows his eyes and asks Leopardfur what she's brought him, commenting that they have enough trouble without ThunderClan spies. The RiverClan deputy tells him that Fireheart and Graystripe claim to have pulled Mistyfoot's kits out of the river, and beckons to Stonefur and Blackclaw to bring the kits forward. Blackclaw sets down the kit he was carrying and spits that he doesn't believe a word of it, because they can't trust ThunderClan cats.
- At the mention of the kits, Silverstream turns and disappears rapidly into the bushes. Crookedstar pads forward, and leans in to sniff the pathetic bundles. Fireheart notes that by now, they were recovering from their ordeal and trying to sit up, but still looked completely waterlogged. Crookedstar turns his cold green gaze to the ThunderClan warriors, and remarks that Mistyfoot’s kits did go missing when the camp flooded. The leader asks how the warriors have come to find them, and Fireheart exchanges an exasperated glance with Graystripe. He replies sarcastically that he and his friend flew across the river, exhaustion making him short-tempered.
- A loud yowling interrupts him, as Mistyfoot breaks out of the bushes and races over to her kits. The queen crouches over the tiny scraps of fur, staring around wildly as if she thinks other cats will try to take them away from her. She starts to lick them, trying to comfort them both at once as Stonefur reassuringly presses against her. Silverstream follows her friend more slowly, stopping beside her father Crookedstar. Fireheart is relieved when she eyes the ThunderClan cats, but her gaze passes with apparent indifference over Graystripe. He is sure she won’t give them away, just as more cats begin to emerge and gather curiously around. Fireheart recognizes Graypool, who gives him no sign she has ever seen him before. He also sees Mudfur as he crouches beside Mistyfoot to examine the kits.
- Fireheart notes that all of the RiverClan cats are wet through, and the way the fur clings to their pelts shows they are skinnier than ever. He recalls that he’d always thought RiverClan as plump and sleek, well-fed on fish from the river, but that had changed when Silverstream told him Twolegs had stolen or scared away most of the prey. Fireheart knows that even though the Twolegs had left in leaf-bare, it didn’t do RiverClan any good because they’d been unable to hunt while the river was frozen, and now, the thaw had driven them out of their camp instead of giving them much needed prey. In spite of his pity, he can’t help but note the unfriendliness in the every cat’s eyes, and the hostility in their flattened ears and twitching tails. Fireheart realizes that he and Graystripe would have to work hard to convince Crookedstar they had really saved Mistyfoot’s kits.
- The Clan leader is prepared to give them a chance to explain, and orders the warriors to tell him what happened. Fireheart begins at the point where he’d heard the kits wailing and stranded in the river, but Blackclaw breaks in contemptuously that ThunderClan has never risked their lives to save RiverClan’s. He bites back an angry retort, and explains how he’d pushed the kits through the torrent to the riverbank. Crookedstar hisses at the black warrior to be quiet, and comments that the Clan will figure out of they’re lying soon enough. Mistyfoot looks up from where she still nuzzles her kits, and meows that they’re not lying because ThunderClan wouldn’t steal kits when all Clans are finding it hard to steal themselves. Silverstream observes calmly that Fireheart’s story makes sense, and explains to the ginger warrior that they had to abandon camp to shelter in bushes when the water started to rise again. She says that when warriors came to move Mistyfoot’s kits, they could only find two of them. Silverstream notes that the whole nursery floor had been washed away, and they must have been swept along to where the ThunderClan warriors heard their cries.
- Crookedstar nods slowly, and Fireheart notices that the hostility of the RiverClan cats is fading, save for Blackclaw who turns his back on the enemy cats with a snort a disgust. The leader meows that they are grateful then, but sounds grudging as if he can hardly bear to be in debt to a pair of ThunderClan warriors. Mistyfoot looks up, and her eyes glow with gratitude as she says that without them, her kits would’ve died. Fireheart dips his head in acknowledgement, and impulsively asks the RiverClan leader if there is anything he and Graystripe can do to help because he knows prey is scarce. Crookedstar growls that they don’t need help from ThunderClan, hissing RiverClan cats can look after themselves. Graypool meows that he’s a fool, with a sharp glare shot at her leader. Fireheart feels a new surge of respect for the elder, and guesses that not many cats would dare to take that tone with Crookedstar. The elder rasps tho her leader that he’s too proud for his own good, considering RiverClan can’t feed themselves even with the thaw. Graypool reminds him that there are no fish to eat, and the river is practically poisoned. Fireheart is too shocked to speak, and Graystripe mews in surprise.
- Graypool explains to them that it’s the Twolegs' fault, because last newleaf the river was clean and full of fish, but now it’s filthy with rubbish from their camps. Mudfur adds that the fish are poisoned too, and cats who eat them fall ill. He comments that he’s treated more cats for bellyache than in all the time he’s been medicine cat. Fireheart stares at Graystripe, then glances back at the RiverClan cats, noting that most of them couldn’t meet his eyes as if they were ashamed a warrior of another Clan knows their troubles. He urges them all to let him and his friend help, and promises they’ll catch prey in their territory and bring it to them until the river has gone down and is clean. Even as he makes the offer, Fireheart knows that he is breaking the warrior code which demands loyalty to his Clan alone. He thinks that Bluestar would be furious if she knew he is prepared to share ThunderClan’s precious prey like this, but can’t bring himself to abandon another Clan in need. Fireheart is reminded that it is Bluestar herself who once said their Clan’s welfare depends on there being four Clans in the forest, and he decides that it must be the will of StarClan.
- Crookedstar narrows his eyes in suspicion, and slowly asks if they will really do this for them. Fireheart meows yes, and Graystripe promises that he will help too with a swift glance at Silverstream. The RiverClan leader grunts that his Clan thanks them, and says that none of his cats will challenge them in their territory until the floods go down and they return to their camp. He adds that after that, RiverClan will fend for themselves again, then turns and leads his way back to the bushes. His subdued cats follow him, casting furtive glances back at Fireheart and Graystripe. The ginger warrior can see that not all of them trusted them or their off of help. Mistyfoot nudges her kits to their paws, and thanks the ThunderClan cats, murmuring to Fireheart that she won’t forget this. Fireheart and Graystripe are left alone as the RiverClan cats disappear into the bushes, and begin to head down the slope to the river. Graystripe shakes his head in disbelief, and comments they must be mad hunting for another Clan. Fireheart retorts that they couldn’t do anything else, unless they’d left them to starve. Graystripe agrees, but notes that they’ll have to be careful because they’ll be crowfood if Bluestar finds out. The ginger warrior adds silently that Tigerclaw would be angry too, as he knows the deputy already suspects he and Graystripe have friends in RiverClan, and thinks he might be about to prove him right.
References and citations
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 124
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 127
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 130
- ↑ Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 131
- ↑ Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 133
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 134
- ↑ Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 135
|Forest of Secrets 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 • Chapter 22 • Chapter 23 • Chapter 24 • Chapter 25 • Chapter 26 • Chapter 27 • Chapter 28 • Chapter 29 • Chapter 30|
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