|"Midnight said knowledge isn't always power. But sometimes it is. And Ashfur has the power to destroy us all."|
|— Jayfeather in Long Shadows, page 282|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty three of Long Shadows. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 23 (of 28)
- Page Numbers: 277-282
- The noises of the violent storm and roaring fire fade, and all Jayfeather can hear is the blood pumping through his ears. The blind tom shakes his head, straining to hear Squirrelflight and Ashfur, and he curses his blindness. Ashfur's voice is disbelieving, and he says Squirrelflight is lying. The dark ginger she-cat speaks softly, yet intensely, and she fires down his shock, confirming she did not give birth to Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf. She asks if he can remember her nursing them, staying in the nursery, and Jayfeather can sense Ashfur's mind racing. The mottled warrior begins to speak, but his voice dies down again from shock.
- Squirrelflight scornfully tells her Clanmate that she fooled her Clan, even Brambleclaw. Ashfur uncertainly asks if they know, and the orange she-cat denies it, calling him blind along with the Clan. Jayfeather senses the torn-eared tom's mind shift, and realizes the mottled cat is reaching for power. Ashfur challenges Squirrelflight, demanding what'll happen once ThunderClan knows, for surely she'll be exiled. There is pain in Squirrelflight's tone, and she asks if he will do this; Ashfur proceeds to mock her. The flecked tom claims Brambleclaw won't love her anymore, for he has the ability to tear away everything and everyone the dark she-cat cares for.
- Ashfur allows Squirrelflight's foster kits live, saying her suffering is beginning. Jayfeather hears the rustle of bracken as his Clanmate stalks off, and then Lionblaze's tense voice catches his attention. His golden-furred brother lifts Jayfeather off the ground, and puts him down on the branch. Steadying the gray tabby, Lionblaze tells him to hurry, and Jayfeather pads along the tree branch carefully. Trusting his brother, the medicine cat stumbles forward, heat, and the roaring of fire pressing at him. Lionblaze appears to step on a twig, for the tabby tom hisses in pain. The worst heat dies away, and Jayfeather moves from the branch. His paws touch the ground, and it feels hot, but not scolding, and he's relieved to know he's safe.
- Thunder rumbles overhead, but the storm sounds further away. Rain begins to fall, and hisses as it puts out the fire. The wind softens, and the danger of trees collapsing is weakened. Jayfeather can hear yowls from down the hollow, and apparently spots cats on the cliff. However, the gray tom and his littermates ignore it. Hollyleaf speaks first, voice quivering, and asks Squirrelflight for the truth about their mother. Jayfeather knows the answer to it, as he can sense the fluffy-tailed warrior's desperate regret, and sorrow. Overwhelming love, the love of a mother, echoes in his brain. Squirrelflight had lied to Ashfur: she does love Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf, despite them not being her kits.
- The she-cat whispers an apology, and wishes she told the three earlier. Her apology is not met kindly by Lionblaze, who has a blast of rage as he demands what she means. Squirrelflight is pleading now, and reveals that two cats, her and an unknown warrior, had been in on it. The golden tabby snaps at her angrily. Jayfeather tries to find the answer in Squirrelflight's mind, but the whirl is too hard to work out. Hollyleaf's claws tear the ground, and the black she-cat whimpers about Brambleclaw. Her foster mother assures the other she-cat that her supposed father isn't aware of this, and Hollyleaf's voice grows shrill.
- She squeaks why she allowed the deputy to believe such a lie, then questions who their true parents were. Jayfeather, yet again, reaches into Squirrelflight's memory. He can only sense a blur of snow, brambles scraping at the ginger warrior's pelt, and guilt from her terrible secret already weighing her down. Squrrelflight refuses to answer, and Lionblaze's voice is filled with sorrow and anger. He exclaims she can, but won't. His gray medicine cat brother can feel Hollyleaf's emotions the exact same as Lionblaze's, but something inside him is icy and calm, like he knows this would've happened.
- He and his littermates are the three, it'd take something extraordinary about their past to make sense. The truth has yet to be discovered, and their path had been laid out since long ago, casting a shadow on the moons ahead. Squirrelflight tries apologizing again, telling the trio she loves them as her own; Hollyleaf only hisses at her, telling her to leave. The ginger tabby pleads, but Lionblaze stops her. The muscular tabby agrees with his sister, and tells Squirrelflight to go. Misery rolls off the warrior, almost sweeping Jayfeather off his paws, and he listens to her turn and blunder off through the undergrowth.
- Leaving the three siblings at the edge of the charred foliage, neither of them talk. Jayfeather is numb with shock, and can sense Hollyleaf and Lionblaze feeling the same. He and the other cats nearly died, and confronted Ashfur and his destructive rage. The most devastating part of it all was Squirrelflight's secret. Hollyleaf finally speaks, and she talks about their parents' secret identities. Lionblaze answers his sister, anger in his voice, telling her to worry later. The golden warrior tells Jayfeather and Hollyleaf they need to discuss Ashfur and his knowledge. His dark-colored sister seems to doubt the flecked tom's anger to truly do it, while Lionblaze believes his former mentor really will.
- The tabby explains Ashfur will do what he has to in order to hurt Squirrelflight, and it'll hurt her more then ever. Jayfeather stays quiet, detached from the urgent discussion of his brother and sister. His foster mother's secret is now out, and the consequences will be unavoidable. All the light gray tom is able to feel is a mild curiosity at what would happen. Hollyleaf worriedly tells her brothers to not say anything, the considers her Clanmates punishing them as well. The black she-cat adds maybe Ashfur won't say anything.
- Lionblaze retorts back, but agrees not to tell anyone. He says if their Clanmates do find out, they'll need to defend themselves, then mentions Jayfeather. The gray tom nods, agreeing, and Hollyleaf prepares to leave for camp. As the three arrive, the hollow smells charred and bitter, and Jayfeather scrambles over the remains of the barrier. He stares at the sound of Brambleclaw's voice, reminding himself the deputy isn't his father anymore, and the brown tom asks if they're alright. Lionblaze tightly replies he is fine, and Brambleclaw begins issuing out duties for the trio.
- Hollyleaf is told to go help Lionblaze with the nursery with Brackenfur, and Jayfeather is needed by Leafpool. Brambleclaw mentions Spiderleg's burned paw pads, and Longtail had hit his head. Jayfeather listens to the deputy bounding away, and turns to Hollyleaf and his brother. He reminds them not to say anything, and heads off. However, as he makes his way across the clearing, he is able to sense Ashfur standing in at the camp edge. The gray tom's dark gaze pierces him, as though Jayfeather can see him. The chapter ends with Jayfeather thinking about what Midnight had said.
Notes and references
|Long Shadows 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|
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