|"I have traveled so far and loved so much, and yet I am still following the Sun Trail, heading for my new hunting grounds."|
|— Gray Wing as he joins the spirit cats in Path of Stars, page 308|
- A new era dawns in the forest....
- After moons of deliberation and strife, the forest cats have settled into five camps, following the spirit cats' advice to spread out like the petals of the Blazing Star. But now the dangerous rogue Slash has kidnapped Star Flower and made demands for prey that the forest cats cannot afford to meet.
- Clear Sky is desperate to save his mate and the kits she carries, but he cannot do it alone. To have any hope of defeating Slash, Clear Sky must join with the other groups, led by Tall Shadow, Wind Runner, Thunder, and River Ripple. The other leaders are reluctant to risk helping Clear Sky, but as Slash's rogues grow more brazen and their attacks more vicious, all five groups will have to work together if their new way of life is to survive.
Detailed plot description
- Gray Wing sits on the edge of the moor with Turtle Tail, and relishes the perfect moment with his former mate. Turtle Tail reveals to him that his life has already changed, and Gray Wing is reminded of Slate. He confesses that he misses her, and Turtle Tail tells him that she misses him too, although he shouldn't be alone, for he has Slate. Turtle Tail tells Gray Wing that she loves him very much, and it comforts her to see him happy. She thanks him for being a father to her kits, and begins speaking, but is unable to finish her sentence. Gray Wing wakes up, and Slate asks him if he is alright. Gray Wing replies that he was dreaming, and when she asks what, Gray Wing responds with about how lucky he was. He tells Slate to go back to sleep.
- Clear Sky frets about his mate, Star Flower. She had been taken by a blood-thirsty rogue called Slash. He recalls the skirmish that he had gotten into, and how Quick Water, his former Tribemate, didn't lift a claw to help. He composes a plan to bring a patrol to talk to River Ripple, Wind Runner, Tall Shadow, and Thunder, hoping that they will agree to meet Slash. He goes back to his camp, seeing all of his campmates in silence. He glances at Quick Water, asking what she said. The she-cat replies that she told them the truth, and Clear Sky is outraged, reminding her that she was kidnapped. Sparrow Fur points out that Quick Water said one of the rogues used to be Star Flower's mate, and Nettle says that Quick Water had told them that she had gone with them freely.
- Acorn Fur asks if the rogues took her against her will, and Clear Sky confirms it, hopeful that someone finally believes him. The light gray leader explains that in order to get Star Flower back, they have to share half of their prey with Slash's group. He tells his cats that they'll do this until Star Flower comes back, and then the rogues will have to hunt for their own prey. Acorn Fur tells Clear Sky that she'll go with him to retrieve Star Flower, but Clear Sky's campmates are afraid that it is a trap. Alder and Sparrow Fur side with Clear Sky. Clear Sky is anxious about Thunder's opinion, wondering if he'll side with him for Thunder originally loved Star Flower prior to Star Flower choosing Clear Sky as a mate.
- Thunder is in his own forest camp, hunting with Lightning Tail and remembering the other day—Quiet Rain's death, and Gray Wing's decision to move to Wind Runner's group on the moor. When Thunder's cats smell Clear Sky, Lightning Tail wonders if Thunder's father is starting another fight. Pink Eyes says that there's nothing to fight about, but Lightning Tail comments that Clear Sky will always find something to fight about. Thunder suggests that he's just bringing news. Clear Sky explains to Thunder how Star Flower was taken hostage, and asks for his help. Thunder says that they need to help her, but he refuses to help, saying that he can't give Slash prey, and that he must think of his campmates before Clear Sky's.
- Clear Sky is outraged, asking him what kind of son he is. He snarls at him, asking how long he's going to resent him for taking Star Flower as his mate, and says that if his kits die, he'll never forgive him. Thunder meows that he's punishing no one, repeating that he can't sacrifice his campmates to save Star Flower, and that Clear Sky must solve this problem himself. Clear Sky turns away, and Sparrow Fur tells him that River Ripple will know what to do, as he'll be happy to share some of his prey. Clear Sky realizes that the other cats need to help, and he leaves Thunder's camp. Thunder instantly feels guilty, wondering if he should've agreed to help. He wonders if his refusal to aid Clear Sky would lead into another Great Battle.
- After a sloppy hunting mission with Wind Runner, Gorse Fur, Moth Flight, and Slate, Gray Wing sees Clear Sky and Tall Shadow rushing into their camp. Clear Sky explains that Slash has taken Star Flower, and Gray Wing remembers that Slash had been using Fern to spy on Tall Shadow's group. Tall Shadow tells Gray Wing that Fern had left her group after Gray Wing. When Gray Wing asks why, Tall Shadow replies that she couldn't settle and she seemed frightened. Gray Wing wonders why Fern hadn't felt safe with Tall Shadow's group, and he realizes that Slash is more dangerous than imagined. Clear Sky asks why they are talking about Fern, and Gray Wing tells him that Fern was being used by Slash. Tall Shadow is shocked, and he asks for help from Wind Runner. Clear Sky explains Slash's proposition—how he wants them to share their prey, but Wind Runner is uncertain. Clear Sky begs her to help, but Wind Runner says that she doesn't have to do anything for him. Clear Sky says that if they had been holding Gorse Fur hostage, he'd help her, but Wind Runner comments that he doesn't help anyone but himself.
- Gray Wing says that isn't true, reminding Wind Runner that Clear Sky had rescued Holly's kits when they had gone missing. Gray Wing thinks they should help, but Slate is uncertain, saying that the rogues are dangerous. Gray Wing looks at Slate, saying that if it was his mate's unborn kits in danger, he would want every cat he knows to help. Wind Runner realizes that there are kits involved, and she tells Clear Sky that they will meet with the rogues. Wind Runner asks if they should come up with a plan before they leave, but Clear Sky says that they need to ask River Ripple first. He reports that Thunder had refused to help, and Gray Wing assures him that he'll talk to Thunder for him. When Tall Shadow and Clear Sky leave, Wind Runner frowns at Gray Wing, asking if it was a good idea to meet with the rogues and promise them their prey. Gray Wing points out that they only promised to meet the rogues, not their prey. Wind Runner asks what they do if they refuse, and Gray Wing says they won't be able to do anything, for he has a plan.
- At the four trees, Clear Sky waits for the other leaders. He knows that Tall Shadow, Wind Runner, and River Ripple would come, but he is unsure about Thunder, wondering if Gray Wing had been able to talk to him. To his relief, Thunder does appear, along with the other leaders. Clear Sky feels slightly bitter that Gray Wing was able to convince him but he himself wasn't able to. Slash himself makes an appearance, asking if the others care if Clear Sky never saw Star Flower again. Slash tells him that he just wanted to see if he was able to persuade the other leaders, and when Wind Runner asks if Clear Sky hadn't been able to bring them due to Slash's demands, Slash says that he would've dealt with Star Flower and found another way to make them share their prey. Thunder is furious, asking how dare he threatens them.
- Slash asks him if he really wants to argue with him, and Thunder asks him what makes him so sure that they will share their prey. Slash replies with telling him that he doesn't want to see Clear Sky lose his mate and kits. Clear Sky starts to panic, asking if Star Flower is okay. Slash doesn't answer, and Clear Sky's panic turns to rage. River Ripple tells Clear Sky not to let Slash rile him, and that he needs to keep a clear head. Clear Sky reminds Slash that he had promised to return Star Flower if he brought the other leaders with him. Slash tips his head, saying that if he were to give him Star Flower, then he wouldn't be able to honor the agreement that had brought him there. Slash tells Clear Sky that he won't be able to decide if anything is agreed, and if he wants to see his kits and mate alive, he will meet Slash's demands. Slash tells them that for every five pieces of prey that the cats catch, they will give Slash one.
- Wind Runner is shocked, pointing out that they'll starve. They start to argue over land and hunger, and River Ripple asks why Slash can't go and hunt elsewhere. Slash wonders why they would need to, if they can ask for prey from them, and that if they don't share their prey, Star Flower will die. Clear Sky suggests that they share one piece of prey in every ten, but when Slash refuses that, he changes it to one in seven. Slash doesn't answer, and River Ripple tells him simply that their campmates will not go hungry to feed him. Clear Sky is outraged, reminding them that they promised to help him, and begs Slash to give him a chance to persuade the other leaders. Slash scowls telling Clear Sky that his friends don't care if Star Flower dies. He tells him not to worry, for he won't be the only one to pay.
- He tells the leaders that his savage rogues outnumber them, and that they can refuse him if they value their prey more than they value the lives of their kits and campmates. However, the cats still refuse to give them their prey, and Slash leaves. Clear Sky is distraught, realizing that Slash will kill Star Flower and his kits. He tells the leaders that he never wants to see them again, and Wind Runner hisses at him, telling him to stop acting like a kit. Clear Sky pleads for them to understand, reminding them that Star Flower will die. Wind Runner calls him a fool, asking if he thinks that they have no hearts. Clear Sky is perplexed, and Tall Shadow tells him to come with them, as they have something to show him.
- During the meeting at the four trees, Gray Wing, Lightning Tail, Reed, and Leaf are all embarking on a mission to the marshland to rescue Star Flower from Slash's cruelty. They see Fern, who had promised to help Gray Wing retrieve Star Flower. Gray Wing remembers when Fern had told him that she hadn't known where Slash held Star Flower captive, but she would find out and Gray Wing would meet her. The time had come, and Fern leads the cats to Star Flower's hostage place. She tells them that she can't help them anymore, as Slash would kill her if he knew that she had told them where Star Flower was. Gray Wing asks if they remember what to do, and they do, setting their plan into motion.
- Lightning Tail distracts one of the guards, telling them he was a loner who was looking for prey. The guard hisses at him to go elsewhere, and as he asks where the best place to hunt is, two more cats stalk towards them. Lightning Tail apologizes for bothering all three of them, and backs away. Leaf lets out a fake, anguished wail, and the guards are confused. As both guards are distracted, Gray Wing and Reed move in, finding Star Flower in a shocking state - half starved. Star Flower tells them that there are two more guards coming, and Gray Wing realizes that's all more of the reason to hurry up. They start to run with Star Flower, but they are ambushed. One of the guards attempt to leap at Star Flower, but Gray Wing dodges his blow, urging Star Flower to hurry up.
- Reed goes with Star Flower, and Lightning Tail is able to throw off his attackers. Gray Wing is minutes away from killing one of the guards, but asks her if she promises to leave Star Flower alone had Gray Wing let her go. The tortoiseshell says yes, and Gray Wing drives her away. Gray Wing tussles with another tom, telling him that he's wasting his time and he won't let him get to Star Flower. He hears another wail, and recognizes it as Star Flower. Gray Wing finds Reed crouching over Star Flower, thinking she might've gotten hint by a monster. But Reed reveals that the golden she-cat is having her kits.
- Star Flower's kits are coming too early, and Gray Wing and Reed try to transport her somewhere safer. Gray Wing tries to get help, and he runs upon Jagged Peak, and asks for his help. Jagged Peak orders Mouse Ear, Sun Shadow, and Holly to go and find Star Flower, but Pebble Heart asks to come as well, saying that he could help. The patrol is delayed, as they went the wrong way, but they manage to successfully find her. The cats manage to carry her into camp, and Leaf asks about Clear Sky. Gray Wing is shocked, wondering how he didn't think about Clear Sky at first. Gray Wing tries to find them, but Clear Sky runs into him first, with Tall Shadow, Wind Runner, Thunder, and River Ripple. Gray Wing tells him that they rescued her, but the kits are coming. Clear Sky is shocked, and Tall Shadow points out that it is too early.
- Gray Wing reports that they had taken her to Tall Shadow's camp, and that Pebble Heart and Reed are with her. Tall Shadow frowns, asking if they've ever seen a kitting or even know what to do. Gray Wing informs her that Holly was there, and she knew what to do. Wind Runner points out that she's had kits and she also knows what to do, and rushes towards the camp with Tall Shadow. River Ripple is reluctant to join them, saying that too many paws at a kitting will get into the way, and asks them to send word as soon as they find out that Star Flower and her kits are okay. Thunder tells Gray Wing that his plan was good, and River Ripple hopes that stars are on their side, as early kits rarely survive. Gray Wing says that Clear Sky's kits are strong, and this litter will survive. Back at camp, Wind Runner aids Star Flower in delivering her kits, and Clear Sky comforts Star Flower with loving words. Star Flower successfully delivers her kits - two she-kits and one tom.
- Clear Sky is ecstatic, saying that they're perfect. Wind Runner says that they're perfectly healthy, but small, and Pebble Heart asks Tall Shadow if they can stay a while. Tall Shadow accepts, and Pebble Heart asks if Clear Sky will let them stay. Clear Sky says yes, and thanks Wind Runner and Holly. Clear Sky then turns to talk to Gray Wing, thanking him for rescuing Star Flower. Gray Wing replies that it was the right thing to do, and Clear Sky asks why they kept his plan secret from him. Gray Wing tells him that if he knew where she was, nothing would've kept him from finding her, and that Slash needed a distraction. Clear Sky grunts, pointing out that he was the distraction. Gray Wing tells him that he had to be convincing, as it was the only way to get her back safely. Clear Sky says that he will always be grateful, and Gray Wing tells him it's nothing, as he would do the same for him. He sees doubt flash in Clear Sky's eyes, but it disappears and Clear Sky presses himself against Gray Wing. Gray Wing congratulates him, and Clear Sky thanks him, telling him he will never forget this.
- Thunder visits his father, Clear Sky, who is strangely cheerful to see him. Thunder asks about Star Flower, and Clear Sky replies that she's alright but the kits will stay next to Star Flower until they are a big stronger. Thunder is envious of Clear Sky's behavior towards his new kits, and wonders why he wasn't this way to him when he was a kit, realizing that he only was saved because of Gray Wing. He thinks his life would be very different if it had been Clear Sky coming to rescue him. Thunder tells Clear Sky that he heard he was sending out more patrols, and Clear Sky tells him he wants to be vigilant. Thunder asks if he plans on causing any troubles with the rogues, and Clear Sky says that Slash deserves to suffer, but he will not bother as Star Flower is still recovering from her ordeal. Thunder promises to visit him again, and as he leaves camp, he becomes sure that Slash will stir up more trouble, but he doesn't know when.
- Thunder returns to his camp, and his campmates report of being attacked by five rogues next to a sycamore. Lightning Tail explains that they attacked them to take their prey, only because they could. Thunder wonders if these are Slash's rogues, and Lightning Tail proposes an idea to train. He states that they must practice fighting moves and that they must learn new skills so that they are always prepared. Owl Eyes suggests that they start training at once, and Cloud Spots says that he has a few moves he can share. Lightning Tail declares that they must all train, and Thunder realizes that if anything were to happen to him, Lightning Tail should be the next leader. Thunder tells Lightning Tail that he is putting him in charge of training, and he scans the camp, seeing determination in his campmates' eyes, knowing that they were no longer angry or afraid - they were ready to fight.
- Wind Runner hopes that her group is not the only group that prey is being taken from. Gray Wing assumes that they aren't, reminding her that was probably the reason that Thunder had called a meeting. Wind Runner, Gorse Fur, Gray Wing, Minnow and Slate arrive at the four trees, seeing River Ripple and Tall Shadow. They see Clear Sky and Thunder as well, and note that they are the last ones to arrive. Thunder reports that their prey is being stolen by rogues, and the other leaders report the same occurrence - except River Ripple, who comments that they haven't been stealing their fish. River Ripple offers to share his fish, but Lightning Tail refuses, and Thunder says that his offer is kind but it will not feed all of them.
- Clear Sky explains that this all started when he asked for help to retrieve Star Flower, and comments that she is safe, saying that none of them would've slept soundly in their nests if they know they had left her to die. Gray Wing states that Star Flower was just Slash's excuse to start stealing from them, and that he must find a reason to justify his hate. The leaders decide to start battle training, and they assign each kit their own trainer. Gray Wing says that he will go find Fern now. He visits her, and Gray Wing asks if she is alone. Fern replies that she is, and asks if he thinks she risked her own pelt to betray him. Gray Wing apologizes, saying that he doesn't like coming here. Fern retorts that he should try living here. Gray Wing asks her why she doesn't leave if she hates it.
- Fern replies that she would if she thought there was anywhere safe from Slash. Fern asks if Star Flower has had her kits yet, and Gray Wing confirms so - two she-kits and a tom. Fern purrs, wishing she could tell Juniper and Willow, as they have been worried about her. Gray Wing is confused, asking who they are. Fern replies that they are just campmates. Gray Wing asks why they care, pointing out that they helped keep her hostage. Fern tells Gray Wing that they're not all fox-hearts. Gray Wing asks why she stays with Slash, and Fern queries why they give him their prey. Gray Wing replies that they steal it, and Fern questions why they don't fight for it. Gray Wing doesn't answer, not wanting to admit that the rogues outnumber them.
- Fern explains to Gray Wing that Slash knows how to make other cats do what he wants, commenting that she can't sleep at night, thinking that every rustle in the brambles would be Slash coming to get her. Gray Wing feels pity for the she-cat, and Fern informs him that he's been plotting for revenge ever since they had taken Star Flower back from him. Gray Wing asks if Fern will help stand up to Slash, and Fern is hesitant to answer, although she does tell him that some of her campmates might stand up as well. Fern wishes she can help them, but she can't, but tells Gray Wing that Slash isn't as powerful as he thinks. Fern tries to convince Gray Wing that they'll lose, and it's too big of a risk, but Gray Wing points out that they wouldn't if her campmates help. Fern says that she can't promise him anything, as if her campmates think he might lose, they won't join.
- When Fern tells him she needs to leave, Gray Wing invites her to stay with him. Fern shakes her head, explaining that she has kin that will suffer without her. She says that if she were to leave, Slash would blame her sister for disloyalty. Fern warns Gray Wing, saying that Slash is determined to make him pay. Gray Wing is confused, and asks what for. Fern says that it probably was for being happy. Gray Wing travels home, angered that he is still having trouble breathing. He comes across Slate, who brings him back to camp. Gray Wing tries to explain what happened, but he still can't breathe, and Wind Runner orders him to rest. After he recovers, Gray Wing explains what Fern had said about her campmates rising against Slash. They think that Slash will attack, and Wind Runner posts guards day and night. Gray Wing rests in his nest, pitying Slash for a moment as no cat that cruel could feel warmth as he did with Slate. His pity evaporates, and he wonders why Slash would make cats pay for being happy.
- Clear Sky and Sparrow Fur are out hunting, and are cornered by Slash and Splinter. They steal the prey that they had caught, and Sparrow Fur hisses at them, saying that they caught it for their campmates. Slash reminds them that they were sharing their prey, and Clear Sky snarls at them, saying that he had to catch his own prey. Slash mimics Clear Sky, when he had begged him to let Star Flower go. Clear Sky says that he got Star Flower back, which means he doesn't have to give him anything. Slash orders Clear Sky to give him the squirrel, and they'll leave him alone. Splinter adds for now. Snake insults Clear Sky, saying he was never much of a leader.
- Clear Sky allows them to take their prey, commenting that they'll catch more while they grow lazy and fat. Slash flattens his ears, and Clear Sky is glad that he made him angry. Clear Sky paws the squirrel towards Slash, and tells him that should fill his belly until he learns to catch his own. Slash lashes out with a paw, and Clear Sky ducks. Sparrow Fur attacks Slash, and Slash fights back. Snake tells Slash to kill her. Clear Sky stops the fight, telling Snake to take the squirrel and go. Slash thanks Clear Sky sarcastically, telling him that next time, he should be a little more polite or he might get hurt. Clear Sky almost threatens Slash, but remembers of his promise to keeping Star Flower and the kits safe. Slash takes the rabbit from Beetle and throws it to Clear Sky, telling him it's a gift from him to Star Flower.
- Clear Sky suggests they go back to camp to treat Sparrow Fur's wounds, and he thanks her for coming to his defense. Clear Sky is angry about Slash stealing prey from them, and wants to catch his own once more, but instead brings it to Star Flower. He watches his kits play, Dew Petal, Tiny Branch, and Flower Foot. Clear Sky is cheerful seeing his kits play, but knows that unless Slash is out of the forest, no cat will be safe. Thunder and Lightning Tail are at the four trees, waiting for Clear Sky to come as he had called a meeting. When all the leaders arrive, Clear Sky reports about the rogues stealing prey and how his group has gone hungry. Lightning Tail reminds Thunder of a move that they had used at Twolegplace when Turtle Tail's kits had gone kidnapped. Lightning Tail and Thunder perform the move on the leaders to show them how they did it, and the move is nicknamed after Lightning Tail and Thunder.
- Star Flower appears, and teaches them moves that One Eye had taught her. After the successful training session, the leaders return home. Thunder tells Lightning Tail to help him find the rogue camp. Lightning Tail is worried that they'll be caught, but Thunder assures him that they'll say they are bringing Slash prey. They come across the camp, but unbeknownst to them they are actually outside the camp wall. They overhear Slash talking to a beautiful she-vat called Violet, trying to convince her to be his mate. He says that Rain, who had been killed on a Thunderpath, made his only smart decision by making Violet his mate. Slash tells Violet that she would never go hungry if she was the leader's mate. Thunder studies Violet, awing at her beauty.
- Violet angrily rejects Slash's offer. Apparently, Slash had taken in new cats that would be to his aid when he ambushes the moor cats. When moonlight falls, the two toms decide to leave, but Thunder is still awestruck by Violet's beauty, thinking she is staring at him. Thunder tells Lightning Tail that they'll take their prey back to camp, warn Wind Runner about the attack, and he thinks to himself that he will help Violet escape. During a hunting mission gone wrong, Gray Wing, Wind Runner, Slate, and a few others from Wind Runner's camp come across Slash and his rogues. Slash tells Splinter to kill Wind Runner. But Wind Runner fights him off, and the cats battle with Slash's bloodthirsty rogues.
- Slash almost delivers Gray Wing a fatal blow, but Slate fends it off. Gray Wing falls, injured. Wind Runner reports that they had chased the rogues off, but her eyes are dark with concern for Gray Wing. Moth Flight asks if he is okay, and Slate is frantic, saying she doesn't know. Moth Flight comments that Slash had given him a nasty bite, but it would heal. Wind Runner praises Slate for dragging off Slash, and Gray Wing thanks her as well. Slate purrs, saying that she couldn't let anything happen to the father of her kits. Gray Wing is confused, remembering that Turtle Tail was the mother of his kits. He tries to understand, and Slate gently tells him that she is having his kits. Gray Wing is shocked, and Slate asks if it is so surprising. Gray Wing realizes that these are his kits, and he buries his nose in his love's fur, thanking her.
- Thunder wants to visit Slash's camp again, but refuses to tell Lightning Tail why. However, Lightning Tail guesses that Thunder wants to see Violet again. As they cross into Slash's territory, they see Violet, Raven, Juniper, and Red. Juniper complains that they shouldn't be hunting when there is food rotting in their camp. Raven asks why they don't share their prey, noting that the best prey goes to Splinter and Beetle while the rest turn sour, and the other cats are left to pick at scraps. They gossip some more about Slash, and Thunder suggests that they check Slash's camp. Thunder reminds Lightning Tail that Slash is teaching his cats to fight, and that they need to learn their new fighting moves. Lightning Tail tells Thunder he's pushing his luck, and Thunder thinks of Violet, knowing that he has to see her.
- They go to his camp, and see Slash in the clearing, demonstrating battle moves. They see Splinter facing a brown she-cat, bleeding from her face. Splinter asks if he should be gentle on her this time, and Slash tells him that Beech has to learn that if she's slow, she gets hurt. Willow asks to take her place, but Slash tells her to go away. Splinter attacks Beech mercilessly until Slash calls the training session to a halt. An orange and white she-cat calls the training cruelty, and Slash tells her she can leave if she doesn't like it. The orange she-cat says she just might. A tom named Moss comes to the defense of the she-cat, known as Dawn, and Slash suggests that he fights for her. However, dogs are led into a camp by a tom named Red, and Thunder and Lightning Tail instantly launch themselves into the middle of the camp to rescue kits.
- They introduce themselves briefly, and Lightning Tail promises to defend the kits. Thunder is able to fight off one of the dogs, and when Beech is cornered by a dog, Lightning Tail and Thunder rush to help. Slash stops Thunder, threatening to kill him if he moves. Thunder is confused, and Slash tells him that it's time Beech proved that she wasn't a burden. The dog attacks Beech savagely, leading Thunder to rip himself out of Slash's grip and take the dog on himself. But it is too late, as Beech's life had already slipped away from her. Fern is grief-stricken. Lightning Tail yowls that they could've saved her. Slash asks what for. Beetle points out that she couldn't hunt or fight, and Splinter adds that she was a waste of prey. Slash calls Red a mouse-brain for leading the dogs into camp, and Beetle brings up that Red had been complaining a lot, and maybe luring the dogs tot he camp was a way to overthrow the group.
- Fern protests, saying that Red wouldn't hurt anyone. Willow asks why he did it. An orange she-cat reports that Stone is dead. Slash declares that it is Red's fault. Thunder growls at Slash, telling him to stop worrying about who to blame. He tells him to take care of his group, and Slash asks how dare Thunder tell him how to lead. He asks what he is doing here, and Splinter says that he thinks he's a spy. Beetle declares that he's trying to stir up trouble, and Slash tells Thunder that he should claw his ears off for trespassing on his land. Thunder tells him that his campmates need help, and not another fight. Slash states that they brought the danger here themselves, and they didn't need help from a couple of cowardly cats. Thunder stares at him, reminding him that they helped him fight the dogs off.
- Lightning Tail adds that their cats are so starved, they can't defend themselves properly, and they obviously don't care about who dies. Slash asks why he should, calling them cowards. His campmates rally against him, bringing up awful things he had done in the past. Dawn states that he wants to teach them how to fight, but he abuses his own cats. Fern declares that they'd be better off in a group. Snake suggests they leave, telling the cats to try and survive on their own. Slash tells Snake that it is a good suggestion, and that he is wasting his time here. He asks Splinter and Beetle if they want to come. Splinter accepts, and Beetle says to let the vermin die here. Thunder demands how Slash could be so heartless, and Slash suggests that he looks after them. Thunder can't answer that question.
- There was not enough prey in the forest, but he knows that these battered cats need help. Moss says they don't need to be looked after. Slash leaves, taking Beetle, Snake, Splinter, and Swallow with him. Fern says that they should fetch Pebble Heart, reflecting on how he looked after Quiet Rain while she was dying. Lightning Tail says he'll fetch him. Drizzle, a small kit, asks Thunder if Slash will come back, and Thunder doesn't know how to respond. Violet, Juniper, and Raven enter the camp, flabbergasted at the aftermath of the dog attack. Dawn tells them the kits were protected by Thunder and Lightning Tail, and Violet looks at Thunder, asking which one he is. He says he is Thunder, and is unable to keep the beautiful she-cat's gaze. Lightning Tail brings Pebble Heart to camp to treat the wounded, and Thunder says that they can't stay in this camp anymore. Violet asks him where they'll go.
- Lightning Tail is leading Gray Wing to Slash's camp. As they run, Lightning Tail updates him on the news of Slash; telling him that Slash had left with his closest allies and abandoned his own cats. Gray Wing is disappointed that Slash wasn't as isolated as he thought, and tells Lightning Tail that they need to get the others away from the marsh as soon as they can. When Gray Wing enters the camp, he is shocked at the sight of devastation. After Thunder is finished burying the dead bodies, he asks Gray Wing what they are going to do with the rogues. Gray Wing says that they obviously can't stay here anymore, and Thunder suggests they take them to Tall Shadow's camp. Gray Wing declines, saying that it's too near and the dogs might track them towards it. Thunder asks if the river would be good, and Gray Wing tells him it's too long of a trek for injured cats.
- Gray Wing frowns, thinking the moor is the best place for them, but wonders if Wind Runner would accept them. Violet asks them if she can join their group. Gray Wing freezes, knowing that Wind Runner would never agree to that. Violet points out that they don't all have to join the same group, saying that some could live near the river, in the moor, in the pines, and in the oak forest. She turns to Thunder, asking if she could join his group. Gray Wing notices them lost in each others' eyes, and Thunder tells Violet that he'll have to talk to his campmates, but he'd love for her to join his group. Violet says she'll fetch the others, stating that they'll want to say goodbye to their dead campmates. She sounds wistful as she recalls Slash making them take dead bodies to the carrion place for the crows and rats. After they are able to successfully make sure their dead campmate's graves are secure, they try to transport Frog to the moor camp.
- It proves to be very difficult, as Frog's spine is badly injured. Pebble Heart thinks that they should use bark to transport him across the moor. Unfortunately, Frog doesn't make it. When they reach the camp, Wind Runner offers the rogues shelter for the night, and Gray Wing says to find a sheltered spot to bury Frog. Wind Runner calls another meeting, saying that she wants to hear how the groups are getting along with their new campmates. When Clear Sky comes to the four trees, he is in a cheerful mood and Wind Runner says he seems pleased with himself. Leaf snorts, saying it's because he didn't take any of Slash's rogues. Clear Sky asks if something's wrong, and Tall Shadow replies that the groups are unsettled as they were sleeping next to cats who were stealing their prey half a moon ago. Every leader seems pleased with their new recruits, expect Wind Runner, who says that Fern won't go into warrens.
- Gray Wing tells her that every cat doesn't like to hunt underground, and Wind Runner continues, saying Bee is the worst of them all. Clear Sky asks if they share, and Tall Shadow replies that they add what they catch to the fresh-kill pile. Thunder thinks about Ember who hunts by himself, and won't work with Cloud Spots. The cats argue about the rogues, and Clear Sky talks about Red, a cat he had allowed to join his camp. Gray Wing tells them that he was one of Slash's rogues, and Blossom says that he thought he was running away from the dogs and he needed somewhere safe to stay. Wind Runner tells him that he lied to him. River Ripple states that it isn't surprising that they are wary of their new campmates, as they had hurt them in the past, but every cat makes mistakes. Clear Sky stops and thinks about Red, wondering if he'd turn out to be like One Eye and if he would harm his kits.
- Pebble Heart says that these cats might be a great gift. Clear Sky thinks about the last time their ancestors spoke with them, and wonders if Storm would speak to him. He then suggests they go home. Thunder stops Clear Sky, informing him that Red led the dogs into Slash's camp. Clear Sky asks if it was on purpose, and Thunder replies that it wasn't, but it was a dangerous mistake. He warns Clear Sky to keep an eye on him. Clear Sky tells him that being a father to his kits has made him realize how he had failed Thunder. Thunder mutters thanks, and walks away. Clear Sky realizes that Thunder might never be ready to confide in him. He believes he had let his firstborn son down, and he could never make up the precious moments he'd wasted, no matter how hard he tried. He realizes he had failed with Thunder, but he will not let his new family down. He thinks that they will always know he loves them more than he loves his own life.
- Gray Wing is woken from a dream in which he tries to find Turtle Tail and Jackdaw's Cry. Slate tells him that the kits are coming, and he fetches Reed for help. Minnow fetches Wind Runner for help, and Gray Wing asks Reed if he had ever had any experiences with kitting. Reed replies that he had once when he was a rogue, and the queen had died. Gray Wing asks why, and Reed replies that she was sick. He states that Slate is healthy and she'll be fine. Wind Runner orders Gray Wing away while Slate delivers. He talks to Fern, who states that she loves living at the moor, and Wind Runner is so kind. She tells Gray Wing that she sometimes sees her looking at her like she's doesn't trust her. Fern asks if she did anything wrong, and Gray Wing replies that it takes a little bit of time for Wind Runner to trust others.
- Gray Wing tells Fern that they're her new family, and tells her that she needs to help Bee volunteer to hunt. Fern says she'll try, and Wind Runner calls Gray Wing to see his new kits. He has three new children - a dark gray tom, a pale gray she-cat, and a black and white tom. Gray Wing recalls that he had felt so much love, and looks at Slate, telling her that he'll teach them how to hunt and he'll keep them safe until they are as strong and brave as their mother. Gray Wing settles besides Slate, and purrs. Gray Wing is then woken by Tall Shadow and Jagged Peak coming to visit. Jagged Peak comments that they'll keep him busy, and Gray Wing reminds him that he raised Thunder, Pebble Heart, Sparrow Fur, and Owl Eyes. Jagged Peak says he has kits in almost every group. Gray Wing says that it's hard to believe he never wanted to leave the mountains; now he can't imagine any home other than here.
- Jagged Peak asks if Gray Wing is glad he came, and Gray Wing says of course. Jagged Peak says that he always felt guilty that Quiet Rain sent him to go after him, stating that Gray Wing wanted to stay with the Tribe and only followed the others to find him. Gray Wing tells him he's glad he ran away, for if he didn't, he wouldn't come here and realize how much he loved Turtle Tail or Slate. He hopes the Tribe is doing okay, and Jagged Peak says that Quiet Rain and Sun Shadow had reported that they were finding enough food to survive. Gray Wing says that life is more than surviving. He reminiscences on old memories with Jagged Peak before he is attacked with a coughing fit. Gray Wing tries to convince himself that he's not sick, and he just needs to take it easy for a moon. He recognizes Reed's voice, who calls for Wind Runner, saying that Fern is hurt.
- Fern is badly hurt, and the cats attempt to treat her with cobwebs. They think a fox had hurt her, but Reed points out that the marks on her are cat scratches. Fern tells them it was Bee who attacked her. Wind Runner thinks Willow might have had something to do with it, but Gray Wing points out that Willow is loyal to the group. Fern agrees, saying that Willow isn't anything like Bee. Moth Flight helps to tend to Fern, and Wind Runner orders Gorse Fur and Spotted Fur to find Bee and bring her back to camp. When Gray Wing goes back to camp, Slate asks if their kits will ever be safe. Gray Wing replies that they'll be safe for as long as he lives.
- Clear Sky watches his kits play in the clearing, Gorse Fur comes to Clear Sky's camp and reports that one of the rogues, Bee, had gone back to join Slash. Clear Sky wonders if the rogues are trustworthy, and asks Gorse Fur if the other rogues are loyal. Gorse Fur replies yes. Clear Sky asks if he knew why Bee went back to Slash, and Gorse Fur tells him that Bee called them mouse-hearts and would rather live with real cats. Clear Sky looks at Red, and Gorse Fur asks if he trusts him. Clear Sky states that he has done nothing wrong. Gorse Fur tells Clear Sky that Wind Runner is worried that the rogues will cause trouble. Clear Sky orders his kits to go back to their nests, and Nettle pads forward, asking if something had happened.
- Clear Sky tells Nettle that one of Wind Runner's rogues had returned to Slash, and Nettle asks if he thinks Red might do the same. Clear Sky doesn't know, but he says he'll find out. Gorse Fur leaves, saying he has to tell River Ripple and Thunder. Later that day, Clear Sky watches as Nettle tries to persuade Red to eat a piece of prey he had caught. Red states that he promised Clear Sky he'd bring everything he caught back to camp. Nettle bites into it, and Clear Sky jumps out, scolding Red for eating. Red is flabbergasted at first, but then takes the blame for Nettle. Clear Sky says that he needs to be able to trust them. When Clear Sky leaves, Nettle talks about driving Clear Sky out with Red. Red gasps, saying that he can't believe he'd betray Clear Sky. Nettle prompts making Red leader, and Red leaps on Nettle.
- Clear Sky lurches out from his hiding spot once more, and drags Red away from Nettle. Red asks why Clear Sky stopped him, telling him that Nettle was a traitor and wanted to drive him out. Clear Sky cuts him off, saying he told Nettle to say all of this. Red asks why, and he realizes it was a test of his loyalty. Clear Sky tells him about how Bee left to go with Slash, and he needed to make sure Red wouldn't do the same. Clear Sky is afraid that Red might leave, and Red is reminded of when he was playing with the kits and Clear Sky had watched. He looks at Clear Sky, understanding why he did what he did - he had to know if he could trust Red. Clear Sky says he can't risk anything happening to them, and Red says he would protect his kits with his life. Clear Sky says he believes him, and turns to Nettle, stating that it's time to make Red officially apart of their group.
- In Thunder's camp, he and Violet are helping reinforce the walls and dens. Thunder turns to ask Violet something, but he is lost for words, and is cut off by Clover. Clover tells Thunder that Lightning Tail taught her and her brother to fight, and she wrestles with Lightning Tail and Leaf, with Thistle by her side. Clover says that if Slash attacks again, she'd be able to defend the camp. Thunder is worried about River Ripple and how he might be dealing with a possible pair of traitors in his especially small group. Thunder suggests that he goes, and Lightning Tail tags along, but Violet states that she thought she and Thunder could go alone. As they travel to the river camp, Violet stops, asking Thunder to finish what he had first said before Clover had stopped them.
- Thunder asks that they be friends, and Violet says she thought they were already friends. Thunder says they are, and tells Violet he thought she was special from the first moment he saw her. He forces himself to go on, telling the beautiful she-cat that he loves her, and when they get to know each other a little better, he wants her to be his mate. Violet says she would love that more than anything, and suggests they visit River Ripple first, and then discuss their future. Violet says she was beginning to think Lightning Tail would have asked for him. Thunder thinks that if he hadn't, Lightning Tail probably would've. He thinks about his friendship and how much he valued it, and hopes that Violet will as well. He asks Violet if he likes him, and Violet replies that she does. Thunder says that he will be a leader one day, and Violet asks if he's going to start his own group.
- Thunder says that if anything were to happen to him, Lightning Tail would be his successor. Violet asks if anything would happen to him, and Thunder replies anything won't, but just in case. Violet snaps, saying she wouldn't let anything happen to him, telling him he would be the father of her kits one day and she would need him. Thunder says he needs her too, and they see River Ripple, who offers them a fish. Thunder politely declines, and asks how the rogues are settling in. River Ripple replies that they like it here so far, and offers to show them. The rogues are indeed getting along well, learning to swim. River Ripple asks if Ember is still hunting alone, and Thunder replies yes. River Ripple tells Thunder that if Ember can't hunt besides his campmates, he shouldn't be apart of the group. Thunder feels dry, wondering where he'll go if he asks him to leave. He ponders if he'd be giving Slash a new ally.
- Thunder brings his cats to a clearing for a gathering, which was River Ripple's idea, to formally welcome the rogues into their groups. Wind Runner calls the ceremony to begin, and River Ripple asks the rogues if they swear loyalty to their new campmates. Willow and the other rogues agree. River Ripple asks if they will hunt for them, fight for them, and protect them when they're weak and stand by them when they're strong. They agree. Dawn asks to change her name to sound more like a forest cat, and the other rogues tag on. Dawn changes her name to Dawn Mist, Willow becomes Willow Tail, Fern becomes Fern Leaf, Red becomes Red Claw, Moss becomes Moss Tail, and Pine becomes Pine Needle. Drizzle doesn't want to change her name, as she likes being called Drizzle.
- Tall Shadow asks Juniper and Raven if they want to change their names, and Juniper asks if they'll choose them for them. Sun Shadow comes up with Juniper Branch, and Pebble Heart suggests Raven Pelt. Tall Shadow asks if they like their new names, and they do. Reed and Minnow would like to change their names, but Wind Runner is hesitant. Minnow asks to be Swift Minnow, and Reed wants to be Reed Tail. Wind Runner echoes Reed Tail's new name, and accepts it. River Ripple asks if Thunder's cats want new names, and Violet proposes Violet Dawn. Thunder says that is beautiful. River Ripple asks if Ember wants to change his name, and he refuses, saying he doesn't want to change who he is. When River Ripple confronts him, asking if he is loyal to Thunder's group or not, Ember snorts that Slash never expected anything of them, and their lives were their own.
- Thunder snarls, saying that they had to obey every word Slash said. There is a snarl from the high rock, and Slash is seen. He states that no cat ever had to obey him. Fern Leaf tells him that it isn't true, and reminds him that he'd hurt Beech if she didn't come back. Slash sarcastically thanks the leaders for looking after the weakest members of his group, and says it is time for them to come home now. Ember says that he wants to come back, and Slash accepts him. Slash asks if Thunder would like to join them. Thunder snarls that he never will. Moss Tail hisses that she will never share a camp with Slash again, and Dawn Mist agrees. Red Claw states that he is loyal to Clear Sky now. Thunder tells Slash to take Ember and go, telling him they didn't take his weakest cats - they took his strongest. Slash hisses, telling him to keep them. He tells them to not think they won, for they will learn the price for defying him.
- Gray Wing instantly thinks of Star Flower and her kits, and demands to know if Slash did anything to them. Slash states he's had enough of making Clear Sky suffer, and blames Gray Wing for taking his cats away. Wind Runner worries about Slate and the kits, and Thunder, Gray Wing, and the moor cats return to Wind Runner's camp while the other groups return to their respective homes. They see Slate and Spotted Fur on the ground. Spotted Fur gets up, reporting an attack. Slate gets to her feet and calls her three kits. Only White Tail and Silver Stripe respond. White Tail tells his mother that the cats who had attacked the camp were able to get a hold of Black Ear, and had taken him. Gray Wing promises to find him, but Thunder tells Gray Wing that he will do it instead. Wind Runner orders patrols to search every part of their territory, and Gray Wing is grief-stricken that he can't save his own kit. Thunder promises Gray Wing that he will find Black Ear and bring him home safe. Gray Wing collapses to the ground.
- Thunder tries to help Gray Wing, but Pebble Heart says he'll tend to him, and that Thunder needs to go find Black Ear. Thunder leaves the camp, and realizes that one cat wasn't with Slash at the four trees. He thinks that Swallow must've guarded Black Ear while Slash was at the meeting. Thunder, along with a patrol, find a cave between two boulders with Black Ear's scent, but he isn't there. They run into a fox which pokes out of the cave, which Clear Sky helps them defeat. Thunder asks why Clear Sky came, and Clear Sky tells him that he guessed Slash had attacked Gray Wing after he found Star Flower safe. They see Slash's rogues try and cross the Thunderpath, and spot Black Ear hanging from one of the rogue's jaws. They come up with a plan to attack Slash after he is on the other side of the Thunderpath, but the rogue holding Black Ear drops him in the middle of the Thunderpath. A monster roars towards Black Ear, and Owl Eyes exclaims that it is going to kill him.
- Clear Sky crosses the Thunderpath without thinking, grasping Black Ear's scruff and drops to the middle of the path, huddling around the kit. Thunder and the others drag him off, and Clear Sky asks if Black Ear is okay. Black Ear meows that he wants to go home, and queries about his mother and littermates. Clear Sky tells him they are all fine, and says they need to get him back to his mother. Sparrow Fur suggests they head for Tall Shadow's camp as it is the closest and Black Ear needs to get warm. Thunder asks if Clear Sky is well enough to travel, and Clear Sky feels pain on his tail, feeling as if the monster had shredded it. Sparrow Fur says that Pebble Heart might know how to fix his tail. Sparrow Fur tells Black Ear she'll bring Slate with Pebble Heart, and Black Ear asks if they'll bring Gray Wing too.
- Sparrow Fur and Thunder exchange a nervous glance, and Clear Sky asks if Gray Wing is alright. Thunder replies he is, but Clear Sky can sense he is not telling the truth. At Tall Shadow's camp, Thunder reports that Clear Sky need rest, as a monster had hit his tail. Holly takes Black Ear under her care. When Clear Sky and Thunder talk, Clear Sky says he had to save Gray Wing's kit as Gray Wing had once saved his. He clarifies this, saying that he didn't mean just Star Flower's litter, but Thunder as well. He says that he didn't look after him when he needed him, and Gray Wing did. He says that Gray Wing was more of a father to Thunder than Clear Sky ever was, and he was grateful to him. Clear Sky hears Slate telling Holly that she needs to bring Black Ear back to camp, to see Gray Wing before he goes.
- Slate is unable to finish her sentence, and Clear Sky asks if he is sick. Thunder says he doesn't think he will recover this time. Clear Sky is shocked, asking if Gray Wing was dying. He says he has to see him, and Thunder asks if he can travel as far as the moor. Clear Sky states that he has to see him, and tries to go with Slate, but he falls against Thunder. Thunder tells his father that he will make sure he gets to the moor in time. Gray Wing is fidgeting with unease in Wind Runner's camp, unable to rest due to his worry over Black Ear. Slate enters camp with Black Ear, and Black Ear flings himself against Gray Wing. Gray Wing looks at Slate, realizing he had promised to help her raise the kits, but he knows with each breath he takes, he is coming closer to his end.
- He knows Slate will have to raise these kits alone. Gray Wing is transported into a den and listens to his kits, trying to purr, but he is not strong enough. Wind Runner tells Gray Wing she is glad they got Black Ear back, and says goodbye to her old friend. Silver Stripe frowns, asking why she is acting soppy. Thunder asks to come in, and Gray Wing requests for Jagged Peak, Pebble Heart, and Clear Sky as well. White Tail asks why everyone is visiting Gray Wing, and Gray Wing thinks sorrowfully that they are coming to say goodbye. He tells White Tail that they came to make sure Black Ear was okay, and White Tail asks if they are kin. Gray Wing replies they are. White Tail asks why they don't live in their group, and Gray Wing tells them they have their own groups.
- He realizes that the word "group" isn't accurate enough to reflect the kinship he feels with his campmates, and he says they have their own Clans. Gray Wing states that their Clan is WindClan. Silver Stripe suggests that Thunder's group be called ThunderClan, and White Tail proposes ShadowClan for Tall Shadow's group. Black Ear prompts RiverClan for River Ripple's group. White Tail asks what Clear Sky's group would be called, and Gray Wing says it will be called SkyClan. Clear Sky repeats the name, saying to trust Gray Wing to name his Clan for something beyond his reach. Gray Wing tells his brother that the sky is all around him, and he walks through it everyday, it's just that he doesn't realize it. Gray Wing sees Bright Stream, with two kits at her side. Bright Stream explains those are the kits she was carrying when she died.
- Gray Wing asks Clear Sky if he heard that, and Clear Sky asks what. Gray Wing tells him that Bright Stream is beside him with his kits, and Clear Sky asks if he can see them. Gray Wing replies that he can, and they are beautiful. Several cats come to Gray Wing, including Shaded Moss, Rainswept Flower, Storm with her kits, Stoneteller, Quiet Rain, Fluttering Bird, and Moon Shadow. Turtle Tail is there as well, looking at his kits. She says she wished he could stay with them, but it is their destiny to know him as only but a memory. He can see all of his friends he had lost from either the Great Journey, the Great Battle, or the sickness, in front of him, as starry spirits. Gray Wing breathes, saying that they've come for him, and he isn't dead yet.
- He turns to Silver Stripe, telling her to be brave and take care of her mother. He tells White Tail to learn all he can to make his Clan proud. Gray Wing tells Black Ear to forgive any harm he has been done and to show kindness to his Clanmates, as they are all fighting a hard battle and sometimes kindness is all they need. Black Ear is confused, telling Gray Wing it sounds like he is saying goodbye. Gray Wing replies that he is. White Tail begs her father to not go, and Gray Wing feels his last breath leave his body. The tightness in his chest ebbs, and he gets up, seeing his kits holding onto the body he no needed. He whispers that he will always be watching them. He turns to the starry cats, and feels their fur brushing against his. He realizes that he has traveled so far and loved so much, and he is still following The Sun Trail, heading for his new hunting grounds.
- Although this book was originally unnamed when Kate revealed it in August of 2014, it was later given the name Path of Stars.
- On the HarperCollins website, the updated cover is shown as a Hardcover, while the old cover is shown as a Library edition.
- There is a preview for The Apprentice's Quest at the end of the book, instead of a Bonus Scene as the previous five books of the arc have had.
- The poster inside of the book contains a map labeled with iconic moments from the series.
- A compiled list of the errors present in Path of Stars can be found here.
- Path of Stars (EN), HarperCollins (Hardcover), 1 September 2015
- Path of Stars (EN), HarperCollins (eBook), 1 September 2015
- Path of Stars (EN), HarperCollins (Library Binding), 1 September 2015
- Path of Stars (EN), HarperCollins (Paperback), 6 September 2016
- Der Sternenpfad (DE), Beltz (hardcover), 14 November 2016, translated by Anja Hansen-Schmidt
- 群星之路 (CN), 未来出版社 (paperback), 1 July 2016, translated by Zhou Ying and Ma Zhiliang
- 眾星之路 (ZH), MorningStar (paperback), 1 July 2017
References and Citations
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Revealed on Kate's blog
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Revealed on the inside right flap of Path of Stars
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Information from HarperCollins.com
- ↑ Revealed in Facebook messenger with the Erin Hunter Marketing team.
- ↑ Revealed on HarperCollins
- ↑ Revealed on HarperCollins
- ↑ Revealed in Path of Stars, page end of the book
- ↑ look inside the poster
- ↑ Revealed on Abovethetreeline.com
- ↑ Revealed on amazon.de
- ↑ Revealed on amazon.cn
- ↑ Revealed on MorningStar
|Path of Stars 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|