|"There was certainly a mystery surrounding those cats, and he was beginning to feel that it might be beyond his power to ever understand it."|
|— Fireheart's thoughts on Mistyfoot and Stonefur in Forest of Secrets, page 88|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter seven of Forest of Secrets. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 7 (of 30)
- Page Numbers: 78-88
- Confused and unhappy, Fireheart makes for the warriors' den, but hesitates before he enters. He doesn't want to risk meeting Tigerclaw, and isn't in the mood to share tongues with friends. His paws instinctively lead him toward the tunnel of ferns where Yellowfang's den is. Cinderpaw limps out and almost collides with the ginger warrior, and the apprentice skids to a halt, spraying him with snow. The gray she-cat puffs a sorry to Fireheart, and notes she hadn't seen him there. Fireheart shakes the snow off his coat; his heart feels lighter at the sight of Cinderpaw, her blue eyes sparkling with mischief, fur sticking out in all directions. He thinks that this is how she used to look before her accident, and recalls that for a while he was afraid Cinderpaw had vanished forever. Fireheart asks what the hurry is, and the gray she-cat explains for Yellowfang. She notes that so many cats have fallen sick, with all this snow, that the medicine cat's store was running low. Cinderpaw says she wants to find as much as possible before it gets dark, and Fireheart offers to help her. He remembers that Bluestar had told him to do something useful, and not even Tigerclaw could find fault with him collecting herbs for the medicine cat.
- Cinderpaw happily meows that's great, and they head across the clearing to the gorse tunnel together. Fireheart feels a prick of sadness as he slows his pace to match the apprentice's, but if she noticed she didn't seem to mind. Just before they reach the tunnel, he hears the shrill voices of kits. Fireheart turns and stares at the branches of a fallen tree near the elders' den. He sees that a group of kits surround Brokentail, who's nest is nearby. Fireheart thinks that ever since Bluestar had offered shelter to Brokentail, he had lived alone with warriors to guard him. He notes not many cats passed that way, and the kits had no reason to be near him.
- Cloudkit jeers at the prisoner, calling him a rogue and traitor. Fireheart watches in alarm as the his kin darts in to give the former leader a jab to the ribs before scrambling out of range. One of the other kits copy him, squealing that he can't catch them. Darkstripe, who was guarding, him, made no attempt to send the kits away. The dark-furred warrior sat a fox-length away, watching with his paws tucked under him and a gleam of amusement in his eyes. Brokentail swings his head side to side in frustration, but cannot retaliate with his cloudy, unseeing eyes. Fireheart notes that the prisoner's fur looked dull and patchy, and that he has scars all over his broad face, some of them from the clawing that had ruined his eyes. He thinks there was no visible trace of the bloodthirsty, arrogant leader now. Fireheart exchanges a worried glance with Cinderpaw, and can't help but feel a scrap of pity for the former leader so old and helpless. Anger begins to burn inside him as the taunting continues, and Fireheart tells Cinderpaw to wait for him as he hurries over to the edge of the clearing.
- Cloudkit pounces on Brokentail's tail, worrying at it with thorn-sharp teeth. Brokentail scrabbles away from the white kit on unsteady legs, swiping a paw in his direction. In an instant, Darkstripe jumps to his paws and hisses that if he touches that kit then he'll flay his skin to strips. Fireheart is too angry to speak, and he leaps towards Cloudkit, grabbing his scruff and swinging him away from Brokentail. The white kit protests, and wails for him to stop. Fireheart drops Cloudkit and growls at all the kits to go home to their mothers. They scuttle off, but Darkstripe tells him to leave the kits alone, as they did no harm. The ginger warrior hisses for him to stay out of it, and Darkstripe shoulders past him, jeering that he's a kittypet.
- Fireheart's muscles tense, and he wants to leap at the dark-furred warrior and shove the insult back down his throat. He stops himself, and concludes this was no time for Clan warriors to fight and he had to deal with Cloudkit first. Fireheart glares at the white kit, and demands if he had heard what Darkstripe called him, a kittypet. Cloudkit mumbles something, and then asks what it is. Fireheart gulps as he realizes the kit hadn't yet realized what his origins meant to the Clan, and he carefully meows that a kittypet is a cat who lives with Twolegs. He explains that some Clan cats don't believe that kittypets will ever make good warriors, and notes that includes Cloudkit and himself because they were born in the Twolegplace. As Fireheart spoke, the kit's eyes grow wider and wider, and he meows that he doesn't understand, because he was born here.
- Fireheart stares at him, and mews that he wasn't, and that his mother is his sister, Princess. He says that she lives in a Twoleg nest, and gave Cloudkit to when he was very young so he could be a warrior. For a few moments, the kit is frozen, and he demands why he didn't know of his origins before. Fireheart apologizes, and meows that he thought the kit knew because Brindleface might have told him. Cloudkit backs away a few tail-lengths, and the shock in his eyes is replaced with cold understanding. He spits that that's why the other cats hate him, because they think he'll never be any good because he wasn't born in a dump of a forest.
- Fireheart struggles to find the right words to reassure his kin, and can't help but remember how excited Princess was when she gave her son to the Clan, and how he had promised her that Cloudkit would have a wonderful life ahead of him. He miserably thinks that now he was making Cloudkit think realistically about the struggles he'll face to become accepted as a warrior. Fireheart worries that the kit might think he and Princess had made the wrong decision. He sighs that it may be stupid, but it is what it is. The ginger warrior patiently says that warriors like Darkstripe think being a kittypet is bad, but all it really means is they have to work twice as hard to show them kittypet blood isn't something to be ashamed of.
- Cloudkit straightens up and mews that he doesn't care, and is going to be the best warrior in the Clan. The kit says he'll fight anyone who thinks he isn't, and boasts that he'll be brave enough to kill old outlaws like Brokentail. Fireheart is relieved that the kit's spirit was overcoming his shock, but worries Cloudkit doesn't understand the true meaning of the warrior code. He warns his kin that there's more to being a warrior than killing, and the best warrior isn't cruel or mean. Fireheart meows that a good warrior doesn't claw an enemy who can't fight back, because there's no honor in that. The kit ducks his head, and doesn't make eye contact. He hopes he said the right thing, then looks around for Cinderpaw, who is checking Brokentail's tail where Cloudkit had worried it. She mews to the blinded tom that there's no damage, but the former leader sits motionless and doesn't respond. Fireheart nudges the old cat to his paws and leads him back to his den in a leaf-lined hollow. Darkstripe watches them, narrowing his eyes as he flicks his tail contemptuously.
- When Brokentail is settled, Fireheart turns to Cinderpaw and questions if she wants to go find herbs now. Cloudkit pipes up, asking where the two are going, and if he can come. Fireheart hesitates, but Cinderpaw convinces the warrior to let him come, and comments that he only gets in trouble when he's bored, and they could use with some more help. The kit's eyes gleam with pleasure, and he purrs so loud Fireheart is surprised such an enormous sound could come from his tiny body. He shrugs, and says to his kin if he puts one paw wrong he'll be back in the nursery. Limping steadily, Cinderpaw leads them along the ravine to the hollow where apprentices had their training sessions.
- Fireheart notes that the sun was beginning to go down, and it casted long blue shadows across the snow. Cinderpaw scuttles ahead of them, Fireheart asks how she can find herbs in the snow, because they'll be frozen. The gray she-cat replies that there will still be berries, and says that Yellowfang told her to look for jumper, broom, and alder bark. Cloudkit skitters sideways toward them, and rushes over to a clump of bushes at the edge of the hollow. Cinderpaw flicks her tail in amusement, and comments that he'll learn quickly when he's apprenticed. Fireheart makes a noncommittal noise, and thinks that Cloudkit's energy reminded him of Cinderpaw when she was an apprentice, except she would've never hurt a helpless cat like Brokentail. He mutters that if he has Cloudkit as an apprentice, then he'd better start listening to him. Cinderpaw gives him a teasing look, and mews sarcastically that he's such a tough mentor, apprentices will be trembling in their fur. Fireheart relaxes, and thinks that as usual, being with Cinderpaw had lifted his spirits. He notes he can stop worrying about Cloudkit and get on with the task at hand.
- Cloudkit calls from further along in the hollow that he's found berries, so Cinderpaw should come and look. Fireheart cranes his neck and sees Cloudkit crouching beneath a small dark-leaved bush. He sees that there's bright scarlet berries that grew close to the stems. Cloudkit mews that they look tasty, and stretches his jaws to take a hungry mouthful. A gasp escapes Cinderpaw, and to Fireheart's amazement, she shoots forward as fast as her leg would let her go. The gray she-cat yowls no and knocks into Cloudkit, barreling him over. Fireheart bounds over, anxious that the kit might hurt hurt Cinderpaw, but the apprentice pushes the kit off her and sits up, panting. She demands to know if he touched a berry, and Cloudkit stammers that he didn't.
- Cinderpaw shoves him around until he was a mouse-length from the bush, and tells him to look. Fireheart notes that he'd never heard her sound so fierce, and the apprentice tells Cloudkit that the berries on the bush are yew, or deathberries. She notes that even one could kill a cat, and the white kit's eyes grow round as a full moon. He, horrified, stares at Cinderpaw and is speechless for once. Cinderpaw more gently mews that it didn't happen this time, but tells him to take a good look so he doesn't make the same mistake again. The apprentice tell the kit never to eat something if he doesn't know what it it. Cloudkit promises not to, so Cinderpaw sends him to look for berries, commenting for him to call her if he finds anything.
- Cloudkit pads off, glancing back at Fireheart a few times, and the warrior notes he'd never seen the kit so subdued. He meows to Cinderpaw that it's a good thing she knew what those berries were, but feels guilty he didn't know enough to warn Cloudkit. Fireheart says Yellowfang must be a good teacher, and Cinderpaw agrees. She shakes some snow off her pelt, and follows Cloudkit up the side of the hollow with Fireheart walking beside her. The smoky gray she-cat notices that the warrior had slowed his pace to match hers, and comments that her leg has healed as much as it ever will. She mews she'll be sorry to leave Yellowfang's den, but knows she can't stay there forever. The gray she-cat turns to look at Fireheart, and her eyes show all the pain and uncertainty she feels. Cinderpaw says she doesn't know what she'll do, and Fireheart comforts that Bluestar will know.
- Cinderpaw shrugs and replies maybe, and notes that ever since she was a kit she wanted to be just like Bluestar. She mews that she's so noble, and has given her whole life to the Clan, and questions Fireheart what she can give with her crippled leg. The ginger deputy admits he doesn't know, because the life of cat can be followed from apprentice to warrior, then possibly to queen before retiring as an elder. He is bewildered as he doesn't know what happens to a cat who can't hunt or patrol, because even the queens in the nursery were once warriors. Fireheart thinks darkly that this is Tigerclaw's fault, as he set the trail that led to her accident. He meows that she should go to Bluestar, and ask her what she thinks. Cinderpaw shrugs that she might, and right after a shrill mew from Cloudkit announces that he's found something. She starts to pad over to him, and amusedly comments that it might be deadly nightshade this time.
- Fireheart watches her go, and hopes that Bluestar could find a way for her to have a worthwhile life in the Clan. He realizes Cinderpaw was right about one thing: Bluestar was a great leader who truly cared for all her cats. Knowing this, he is confused at Bluestar's reaction to Graypool's news. He wonders why the story about two missing ThunderClan kits had made her so mad that she blinded herself to the danger of Tigerclaw. Fireheart shakes his head and pads after Cinderpaw, thinking there was a deep mystery surrounding those cats, and it might be beyond his power to understand it.
Notes and references
|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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