|"Clans! The five Clans, like the five petals of the Blazing Star!"|
|— Pebble Heart when Gray Wing calls the five groups Clans in Path of Stars, page 304|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty four of Path of Stars. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 24 (of 24)
- Page Numbers: 298-308
- Gray Wing is in severe chest pain. He is exhausted by the battle for breath and wants to give up. He does not want to, however, not until Black Ear is back in camp safely. Wind Runner fidgets beside him, and tells him he should be in his den, not freezing outside. Gray Wing shakes his head, unable to speak because of his shortness of breath. He stares at the camp entrance, and snowflakes fall softly onto his fur. Reed Tail offers him some coltsfoot, and the gray tom blinks up at him. He notes mentally that herbs had stopped helping him long ago, and that he is beyond help now. He needs to wait to catch a last glimpse of Slate and Black Ear. Silver Stripe asks the suffering tom if Slate is coming back. Gray Wing rasps that of course she is. White Tail asks if Black Ear will return, and the moor cat replies that Gorse Fur announced he had found him, and that Slate is fetching him at that moment.
- Swift Minnow comes closer and gently tells the dying cat that he should save his breath. She urges him and his kits to come inside. The dark gray tom does not answer and continues to stare at the camp entrance. He remembers many moons ago how he waited for his former mate, Turtle Tail, to come home. She never did. He silently prays that Slate will make it home safely with his son. Moth Flight comes in from Spotted Fur's den, and Reed Tail asks her how he is, and the white she cat replies that he is asleep. White Tail shifts beside her father, and whines that she wants Slate because she's hungry. Gray Wing softly replies that she will be home soon. Swift Minnow offers the kit some prey, and Wind Runner protests that he's too young. The dark gray tom tells his friend to be quiet as she begins to reply, because he can hear paw steps outside the camp. He tries to sit up, but he cannot. He begins to cough, and Swift Minnow tells him it will be okay. Black Ear races in, and asks his father why he's sitting in the snow. He declares that Slash took him, but he escaped. He tells his father that he missed him so much. Silver Stripe and White Tail greet their littermate, and Silver Stripe squeaks that White Tail said Slash ate him. White Tail denies this. Gary Wing's gaze meets Slate's, and guilt washes over him as he realizes he is coming close to the end of his life and that she will have to raise their kits alone.
- Slate blinks away her grief, and moves her kits aside to give the dying tom some space. Her mate asks if Black Ear is okay, and she reassures him that he's fine and he's had a wonderful adventure. Gray Wing notices Thunder, Pebble Heart, Jagged Peak, and Clear Sky had followed his mate into the camp. Clear Sky is leaning against Thunder, and Gray Wing asks what happened. Slate urges him to his den and Wind Runner helps his mate steer him into his den. He sinks into his nest, and his kits enter. White Tail tells him that Thunder reported Black Ear had nearly been killed by a monster, but Silver Stripe adds that Clear Sky saved him. Black Ear tells his father that one of the rogues dropped him right in the middle of the Thunderpath, which makes Gray Wing's heart lurch. Slate says that he's safe now, though, and that's all that matters. Gray Wing tries to purr because he has all his kits surrounding him, but he is too weak and starts coughing instead. Black Ear asks if the dying tom is sick, and White Tail says that he has the sniffles. Gray Wing does not dare to look at his mate, for grief is clawing at his heart. Wind Runner tells her old friend that she's glad he got Black Ear back, and his kits will always be safe with her. She thrusts her nose toward Gray Wing's head, and tells him goodbye. Silver Stripe asks why Wind Runner is acting soppy, and her father replies that it's just been a long day. Thunder asks if he can come in as Wind Runner steps back.
- Gray Wing replies that he can, and that the others can follow him in too. He wants to see the cats that meant so much to him one last time. Jagged Peak enters first, and the dark gray tom blinks affectionately at his younger brother. He searches his gaze for some of his former spirit, but sees only grief there. Pebble Heart follows him in, and Gray Wing tries to purr as he sees him. He thinks that Sparrow Fur and Owl Eyes should be there too. He reflects how over the seasons that they've changed into mature cats. He realizes that Pebble Heart has not really changed, because he's always been so serious. Gray Wing tells Black Ear that Pebble Heart is the gentlest cat he knows, and that if he's ever in trouble he should go to him. Thunder walks into the den, and his foster father looks at him with pride. He notices that Thunder has become a strong leader. White Tail asks why everyone is visiting, and the dark gray tom replies that they are coming to make sure Black Ear is okay. His son asks why specifically are coming, and if they are kin. His father replies that they are, and White Tail asks that why they don't live in their group. Gray Wing realizes that the term groups wasn't a strong enough word to describe the bond he felt with his campmates. He realizes that all the cats in his group felt like kin to him, and he searches for a word that means more than groups. He says that they have their own Clans.
- Pebble Heart blinks and realizes that there are five Clans, like the five petals of the Blazing Star. Black Ear asks what their Clan is called. Gray Wing pauses for a moment, thinking of the breeze forever streaming through his pelt, before responding that they are WindClan. Silver Stripe says that Thunder's group must be ThunderClan, and White Tail exclaims that Tall Shadow's group must be ShadowClan. Black Ear squirms from Gray Wing and says that River Ripple's group must be RiverClan. Slate slides into his nest and presses her pelt to his. White Tail asks what Clear Sky's group's name is. Gray Wing looks at his littermate, and sees a swollen cheek and eyes dull with pain. However, in the midst of this, he sees the determined gaze he'd known as a kit when they lived in the mountains. He reflects that whatever had happened in his life, Clear Sky had been a part of it, and whatever dangers they had faced, Clear Sky always had his eyes bravely fixed on the distant horizon. He names Clear Sky's Clan SkyClan, looking at his brother with the dark realization that soon he'd see it no longer. His littermate remarks dryly that he ought to have expected his brother to name his Clan for something beyond his reach. Gray Wing says that the sky is all around him, and he walks through it every day. He asks his brother if he really saved his kit, and Thunder says that he risked his life to save him from a monster. Gray Wing thanks him.
- Movement catches the eye of the dying tom. He sees Bright Stream as she stops beside her former mate, Clear Sky. Two kits are near her paws, one tabby and one pale gray. She tells him these are the kits she was carrying when she died. Gray Wing asks his brother if he heard that, and he says he did not. The dark gray tom says that she is with his kits beside him, and the leader shifts uneasily, asking if he can see them now. Gray Wing says they are beautiful as joy fills his heart. Bright Stream purrs that they will always be with her. More cats appear, consisting of Shaded Moss along with his daughter, Rainswept Flower. The den sparkles with the starry pelts, filling up with dead cats from his past. Storm stands with her kits, and Stoneteller is there staring at Gray Wing, her eyes soft with welcome. Quiet Rain arrives too, with his dead sister Fluttering Bird. Moon Shadow dips his head to the dying cat. Turtle Tail enters, her eyes shining with sadness. She says she wishes he could stay with his kits, but it's their destiny to know him only as a memory. Pain grips Gray Wing, making his breathing so shallow he is hardly breathing at all. More familiar pelts enter- Hawk Swoop and Jackdaw's Cry, their tails entwined. Wind Runner's dead kits huddle with Turtle Tail. Gray Wing notices that all his friends he lost on the journey and the Great Battle are all there waiting for him to join them. Slate asks her mate what he is looking at.
- Gray Wing takes in a shuddering breath. He replies that they are not dead, and that they are just waiting for him to join them. He nuzzles his mate's cheek, telling her to never forget how much he loves her. He tells Silver Stripe to be brave and take care of her mother. He tells White Tail to learn all he can so that he can one day make his Clan proud. He tells Black Ear to forgive any harm he's been done and to show kindness to his Clanmates, because they are all fighting a hard battle, and sometimes kindness is all that's needed. Black Ear says it sounds like he's saying goodbye, his eyes clouding with confusion. Gray Wing says that he is. His kit wails and begins pummeling his shoulder. White Tail begs him not to go, and his cry fades as the moor cat's last breath leaves his body. The tightness in his chest eases as the invisible jaws let go of him. Gray Wing draws in a deep breath and steps out from his nest. He glances back and sees his former mate and kits clinging to the body he does not need anymore. He whispers that he will always be watching them. He turns to the starry cats and they move aside to let him pass. He walks at their side, falling into darkness. Then, the gorse walls open onto a horizon of rolling hills. The sun rises sending dazzling streams of light spilling over the earth. Gray Wing realizes that even though he's traveled so far and loved so much, he's still following the Sun Trail, heading for his new hunting grounds.
- Wind Runner
- Reed Tail
- Silver Stripe
- White Tail
- Swift Minnow
- Moth Flight
- Black Ear
- Pebble Heart
- Jagged Peak
- Clear Sky
- Shaded Moss
- Rainswept Flower
- Bright Stream
- Quiet Rain
- Fluttering Bird
- Moon Shadow
- Hawk Swoop
- Jackdaw's Cry
- The Clans are born.
- Gray Wing's death: succumbed to his asthma.
Notes and references
|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|
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