|"Mouse-brain! What are you doing here?"|
|— Tigerclaw insulting Fireheart in Forest of Secrets, page 104|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter nine of Forest of Secrets. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 9 (of 30)
- Page Numbers: 101-108
- In Yellowfang's den, Fireheart explains that Brackenpaw had attacked a badger and gotten injured. Cinderpaw inspects the gash on his leg, and brings him a poultice to put on it. The gray she-cat tells the apprentice that he'll have to rest in the medicine cats' den for tonight, but adds she's sure his leg will be good as new in a day or two. Fireheart notes that she speaks cheerfully, with no trace of bitterness that her own leg would never heal so well. Cinderpaw turns to Fireheart and meows that she had Cloudkit in her den earlier, as he had to get some mouse bile for the elders' ticks. Brackenpaw asks what that's for, and his sister replies that ticks drop off when touched by mouse bile. Her eyes glimmer with amusement as she comments that you'd better not lick your paws afterward because it's foul stuff. Fireheart mews it's a pity Tigerclaw has the young kit doing chores, since he doesn't think it was his fault the badger attack him. Cinderpaw shrugs, and concludes that there's no arguing with the deputy. Fireheart agrees, and leaves the den to check on Cloudkit.
- As soon as he enters the elders' den, his nose wrinkles at the scent of mouse bile. Fireheart sees Smallear lying on his side while Cloudkit checks him for ticks. The elder twitches and tells the kit irritably to be more careful and keep his claws sheathed. Cloudkit screws up his face in disgust and says they are sheathed, then meows that he's done with all of Smallear's ticks. Dappletail, who was watching intently, notes to Fireheart that his kin is very efficient. The kit starts toward her and she hakes her head, saying she's sure she has no ticks. She nods to where One-eye is sleeping near the trunk of the fallen tree and adds not to wake her. Cloudkit looks around hopefully, and asks if her can leave as there aren't any other elders around. Fireheart meows that he can see One-eye later, and notes that he'll help the kit get fresh bedding for the den. As they leave, Smallear growls that they'd better bring it back dry this time.
- Together Fireheart and Cloudkit rake out the old bedding and make several trips to carry it out of the den. The ginger warrior shows his nephew how to clean the mouse bile from his paws by rubbing them in the snow. Fireheart meows that they'll go collect some fresh moss now, and adds he knows a good place. Cloudkit trails after Fireheart and complains that he's tired and doesn't want to do this. The warrior retorts that's too bad, because he has to follow Tigerclaw's orders. To make the kit feel better, Fireheart notes it could be worse mentioning that he had to take care of Yellowfang all on his own as an apprentice. Cloudkit's eyes widen and he exclaims that must have been hard, because the old she-cat is very very grumpy. The white kit asks if Fireheart got clawed, and he replies she clawed him only with her mouth, which was sharp enough. Cloudkit lets out a short purr of laughter, and his uncle is relieved he has stopped complaining. When they come to the patch of deep moss, Fireheart notes that Cloudkit did his fair share of digging it out of the snow. The kit copies the warrior's movements as he learns to shake the worst of the moisture off into the snow.
- As they enter camp, Fireheart spots a cat slip out of the gorse tunnel and bound up the ravine. He immediately recognizes Tigerclaw, his massive body and striped pelt unmistakable. Fireheart narrows his eyes, because the deputy had looked almost furtive, peering around before he left the tunnel and darting up the slope as fast as possible. He feels uneasy, and senses that something isn't right. Fireheart drops his moss on the ground and meows to Cloudkit to take his load of bedding to the elders, then come back for his. He explains to the kit that he has something to do, and Cloudkit mews in agreement as he heads toward the entrance of camp.
- Fireheart turns and races up the slope where Tigerclaw had disappeared moments earlier. He notes the deputy is out of sight, so the warrior follows his scent trail and the massive paw-prints left in the snow. Fireheart takes care not to catch up, because he doesn't want Tigerclaw to catch him spying. The trail leads unwavering towards the Twolegplace, and the ginger warrior concludes he must be headed there. His heart clenches with fear, and worries the deputy is so angry with Cloudkit that he wants to hurt the kit's mother, Princess. Fireheart thinks he never told the Clan exactly where Princess lived, but knows it wouldn't be hard for Tigerclaw to find her with his knowledge of his nephew's scent. He keeps low, careful not to disturb the low-hanging fronds of bracken around him. Movement in the corner of his eye catches the warrior's attention, and he spots a mouse scuffling under a bush.
- Fireheart doesn't want to stop and hunt, but the mouse is practically begging to be caught. He instinctively drops into a hunting crouch as he creeps up on his prey, and his pounce lands in squarely on top of the rodent. Fireheart spends a moment longer to bury it into the snow, before beginning to follow Tigerclaw again. He moves more quickly now, afraid of what the deputy might have done in the time he had delayed. As he rounds the stump of a fallen tree, Fireheart practically collides with Tigerclaw who was loping along in the other direction.
- Tigerclaw hisses to the ginger warrior that he's a mouse-brain, and asks what he's doing here. Fireheart's first reaction is relief, because the deputy wouldn't have had time to go to the Twolegplace and harm Princess yet. Then he realizes that the deputy was staring at him with a look of deep suspicion in his amber eyes. Fireheart thinks desperately that he mustn't know he was following him, and stammers that he came out to show Cloudkit a good place for bedding, then decided to go hunting afterwards. Tigerclaw growls that he doesn't see any prey, so the warrior jerks his head in the direction he came from, saying it was buried back there. The deputy narrows his eyes and asks Fireheart to show him where, which infuriates the ginger warrior that he didn't believe him. Fireheart is also deeply relieved that luck led him to catch prey, and leads the way to the tree where he buried his mouse. He scrapes the snow off of it, and asks if Tigerclaw is satisfied.
- The dark tabby frowns at him, and Fireheart can tell he is dying to blame the ginger warrior for something but can't manage it this time. The deputy grunts and tells him to get on with it, and picks up Fireheart's mouse as he marches back towards camp. Fireheart watches him go, then starts running along the trail toward the Twolegplace. He swivels his ears a few times, because he won't put it past Tigerclaw to turn back and follow him. After a while, Fireheart hears nothing and gradually relaxes. Tigerclaw's scent trail ends near the fences at the edge of the Twolegplace, and he walks back and forth, studying the ground. He notes the snow is churned up by the marks of many paws, too many to read. Fireheart scents the air, and realizes that he can smell many strange cat scents, and they had been here recently. He wrinkles his nose in disgust, and observes the scents are muddled up with the stench of Twoleg rubbish and long-dead prey, which make them impossible to identify except for Tigerclaw's own scent. Fireheart washes his paws and thinks deeply. He has no proof that Tigerclaw had met these cats, or if he has simply crossed their path.
- Fireheart starts to head back to camp, when he hears a meow behind him. He springs to his paws, and when he turns around Fireheart spots his sister Princess sitting on on the fence at the edge of her Twoleg garden. Fireheart races across to the fence and leaps up beside her, and she rubs her face on his, purring. She exclaims that he's very thin, and questions if he's getting enough to eat. Fireheart admits that he isn't, and neither is anyone else in the Clan because prey is scarce in leaf-bare. Princess asks if he's hungry now, and comments that there's a bowl of food in her Twoleg's den that he can have if he likes. For a few heartbeats, Fireheart is tempted to fill his belly with food he hadn't caught first, and his mouth waters. However common sense wins, and the warrior knows he can't return to camp with Twoleg scents all over him, and the warrior code forbade him to eat before feeding the rest of the Clan. Fireheart thanks his sister, but politely declines.
- Princess anxiously meows she hopes her brother is feeding Cloudkit, and notes she's been watching for Fireheart a few days so he can tell her how he is. Fireheart replies that he's doing well, and will be made an apprentice soon. Princess' eyes shine with pride, and her brother feels a prickle of uncertainty because he knows how much it meant to his sister to have her kit in the Clan. He knows there's no way he could let her have any doubts about how the kit was settling into Clan life. Fireheart tells Princess that Cloudkit is brave, strong, and intelligent, but silently adds to himself that his kin is nosy, spoiled, and disrespectful. He reasons that Cloudkit would learn soon enough, when he grew used to Clan ways. The ginger warrior meows to Princess that he'll make a fine warrior, and Princess replies that of course he will, with Fireheart to teach him.
- Fireheart's ears twitch with embarrassment, because Princess thinks he finds it easy being a warrior. He recalls that she didn't know the problems he had within the Clan, or how difficult it was to decide what to do when he discovers things that affect ThunderClan. Fireheart mews that he'd better go, and promises to visit again soon with Cloudkit when newleaf comes. He bids farewell to his sister, leaving her purring even harder than before at the thought of seeing her beloved kit again. Fireheart pads along Tigerclaw's scent trail, keeping an eye open for prey as he goes. After telling the deputy he was hunting, he knows he'd better return with a respectable catch. Fireheart notices an unfamiliar sound, and gradually recognizes it as the sound of dripping water. Glancing around, he sees a drop of water fall from the end of a thorn twig, melting a small hole in the snow as it fell. The patter is all around him now, and Fireheart notes a warm breeze ruffling his fur. With a surge of joy, he realizes the harsh season of leaf-bare is ending. He happily thinks newleaf has come, and prey would be plentiful again.
References and citations
|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|