|"And now... now that the five Clans are finally united once more, there will be new challenges. The sky has cleared at last, but the Clans must come together to make the forest grow."|
|— Cinderpelt to Alderheart in River of Fire, page 281|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty one of River of Fire. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 21 (of 21)
- Page Numbers: 262-281
- Dovewing and her kits travel with Alderheart back to ThunderClan's camp, for a final visit. The medicine cat is still in awe about how Tigerstar was brought back to life at Moonpool. Alderheart tells the queen that Cinderheart and Ivypool now have kits, and that Briarlight has died. Dovewing meows wishes she was around to say goodbye. Lightkit, Shadowkit, and Pouncekit eagerly bounce around the older cats, with the latter asking if they will be made apprentices. Dovewing says that they are not quite old enough for that, which results in a groan from all three kits.
- Upon reaching the camp entrance, Dovewing asks Alderheart if ThunderClan will forgive her for running away and is joining another Clan. She admits that it's betrayal to her birth Clan, and the tom tries to reassure her. He says that every cat is worried about her, but she seems skeptical. She stays silent, and the group pads into camp. Twigbranch, serving her warrior vigil, simply nods to Alderheart, but upon noticing Dovewing and her kits, she shouts out the she-cat's name in surprise. The hollow is filled with silence, but soon after, many cats come out into the clearing.
- Ivypool rushes out of the nursery, with her kits following closely behind her and skids to a halt beside her sister. Birchfall and Whitewing push their way through the crowd, and demand to know where she has been, as they thought she was dead. Dovewing seems overwhelmed by her parents and the cats surrounding her, until Ivypool's litter comes wriggling through the crowd to stand beside their mother. They sniff inquisitively at Dovewing and her kits while Ivypool introduces them. Lightkit remarks that they are kind of small, and the silver and white she-cat purrs that they are only a few days old, and only opened their eyes this morning. Dovewing exclaims that they are beautiful, and tells her own kits that the smaller kits were their cousins.
- Bumblestripe appears and looks at Dovewing, and tells the gray she-cat he was glad she is okay. Alderheart recalls that they used to be mates, and can sense the hurt in his voice. Dovewing reveals that her kits are fathered by Tigerstar, and explains that she wouldn't be welcome in ThunderClan anymore since her mate is the new ShadowClan leader. Squirrelflight tells her that a lot of things have changed while she was gone, but they're glad to have her back. Dovewing continues, explaining that she had terrible dreams where the nursery was destroyed and her kits died. Daisy comes forward, and says she wishes she'd told her, since all queens have weird dreams just before their kits are born.
- Bramblestar learns that his nephew is now leading ShadowClan, and expresses his concern with a second Tigerstar leading the Clan. Dovewing assures them that her mate is the same reasonable, good-hearted cat they have known him to be, and that StarClan brought him back so he could lead. She sighs, and tells her kits that they should get back to ShadowClan, and a frozen silence falls over ThunderClan. Ivypool is furious, and gathers her kits before stalking off to the nursery. Dovewing tries to explain her choice, and Bramblestar offers her an escort back to the border. Fernsong and Birchfall are assigned to go, and the leader says that they will look forward to seeing Dovewing at the next Gathering, but since she is no longer a part of ThunderClan, she can't drop by and visit anytime she likes. Dovewing is taken aback by Bramblestar's answer, but leaves the camp without complaint, along with her kits.
- The next morning, Alderheart wakes up in the medicine den. He walks into the clearing to see Ivypool questioning Fernsong about the escort from yesterday, but the tom seems uncomfortable. As the medicine cat pads the other direction, he finds Velvet's toy near the apprentices' den. He wonders if she left it on purpose, or forgot it when she left. The medicine cat thinks that it won't do any harm to return it to her, and see Velvet one more time. Alderheart travels to the Twolegplace, but is confused by the many scents and sounds. He finds Fuzzball sitting with Rippletail, and calls out to the tom, but he runs away. The ginger tom leads him to Velvet's nest, saying she'll be happy to see him Fuzzball leads him closer, and then leaves Alderheart beside the fenceline. The medicine cat sees Velvet staring through a transparent wall, and yowls out to her. She looks up, and he's disappointed when she appears to flee. Alderheart is disheartened that she doesn't want to see him.
- However, moments later she emerges from the nest, explaining that her Twolegs had to let her out. She touches noses with the tom, and he tells the she-cat that he's brought her toy. Velvet is delighted and thanks him, saying she'd forgotten it when leaving. The kittypet meows that she didn't need it as much as she thought she would, due to how Clan life was. Velvet continues that it's great to see him, and offers to show the tom around. He agrees, and they walk around together until sunset. Once back at Velvet's den, she mews regretfully that it's time for him to go. He responds that it is, and says goodbye. She says her farewell, but notes that she's missed him. but that they might not be able to be friends. Velvet explains that he's chosen one life, and she's taking a different path.
- Velvet says she'll always be grateful for ThunderClan taking her in, and adds she has something to give him. She leads Alderheart around the side of the den to her housefolk's garden, stopping at a thyme plant. The kittypet says it's stronger than what grows in the forest, and digs up the plant, offering it to her companion. He accepts it, thanking her for the gesture, and promises to plant it. They say their farewells again, and say they'll never forget each other. Velvet whisks back into her den, and Alderheart stares after her. The medicine cat knows he'll miss Velvet, but that he made the right choice in staying with ThunderClan.
- He then hurries to the medicine cat half-moon meeting, where he explains to Leafpool and Jayfeather why he's late. Alderheart meows that he'd gone to the Twolegplace to see how Velvet and Fuzzball were, which earns him a glare from the blind tom. He sets down his thyme plant, saying that the gray she-cat gave it to him, and it's stronger than the forest type. Jayfeather concedes that they can try it, but seems skeptical. The other medicine cats make small talk about ShadowClan's new leadership, and Alderheart finding Rippletail. However, Jayfeather soon gets impatient and insists they need to start the meeting.
- Alderheart touches his nose to the Moonpool's water, and Cinderpelt appears. She introduces herself, and Alderheart is shocked and surprised at being visited by such an important and special cat, having finally remembered that Cinderheart reminds him of the spirit cat who stands before him. She explains that she was once Firestar's apprentice back when she was alive. She tells Alderheart about how she had been injured on the Thunderpath, and wouldn't be able to be a warrior. She then became a medicine cat, due to her leg never healing properly.
- She brushes her tail along Alderheart's side as she goes on to explain that she once loved Firestar, but she chose her duties as a medicine cat over the slim chance that he would show the same emotion back to her. Cinderpelt says that she is glad she made that choice, as ThunderClan needed her, just as Alderheart is needed now by his Clan.The tom says that he knows ThunderClan needs him, but it is a hard pain to deal with.
- Cinderpelt says that she knows how Alderheart feels, but the rewards that they gain from their Clanmates are much greater. She briskly changes the topic, saying that now that all five Clans are together once more, there will be more challenges that they face. Cinderpelt tells Alderheart that the Clans must come together in order to grow, and her warm gaze rests upon the tom as she fades from his view. He is left wondering just what Cinderpelt's words mean, and what challenges the five Clans will face in the future.
Notes and references
|River of Fire 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 • Bonus Scene|
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