|"For a moment the image of his head disappeared, to be replaced by that of a roaring lion. It was the beast Firestar had heard described in so many elders' tales, his flame-colored pelt blazing into a luxuriant mane, his eyes shining with unlimited strength and full of power."|
|— Firestar's vision in The Darkest Hour, pages 149-150|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter thirteen of The Darkest Hour. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 13 (of 30)
- Page Numbers: 142-151
- The squall at the Gathering soon ends, and Firestar leads his cats back home through the forest, where every twig and fern drips with with water. Silverpelt is glittering brightly through the clearing sky, and the leader of ThunderClan raises his eyes to it, silently praying for StarClan to show him what to do. He begins to worry whether Tigerstar has sent warriors to attack the camp while Firestar and the others have been away.
- Relief floods over him as he emerges from the gorse tunnel to see that everything is peaceful. Whitestorm gets up from sentry duty outside the warriors' den and pads over, mewing that they're back early, he wondered if the stormclouds would cover the moon. Firestar replies with yes, but it was worse than just that. Whitestorm's eyes widen in astonishment as Firestar tells him what happened at the Gathering just before the thunder and lightning prevented him from revealing the truth. More cats join them, and Firestar is aware of shocked mews as the Clan learns about Tigerstar's plans. Firestar finishes that when the storm broke, Tigerstar said it was a sign from StarClan that he had their favor, and he and Leopardstar left, so the Gathering broke up. Whitestorm thoughtfully mews that it might as well be a sign, but one that shows StarClan is angry with Tigerstar.
- Firestar turns to Cinderpelt, asking for her input, a deep foreboding in her blue eyes as she listens to the story. She admits she doesn't know, if it was a sign, it would mean StarClan stopped him from telling the truth about Tigerstar, which she finds hard to believe. She shrugs, pointing out that there are times when a storm is just a storm. Longtail mutters it was an unlucky one for ThunderClan, then, and Cloudtail growls he wishes he'd been there, he would have torn Tigerstar's throat out, then there'd be no more problem. Firestar retorts then in that case, it's a good thing he wasn't there, attacking a Clan leader at a Gathering, that would have made StarClan angry. Cloudtail narrows his eyes at his leader, a challenge clear in his blue eyes, and asks why doesn't StarClan do something to help them, if they're so powerful. Brightheart gently suggests that maybe they will. Mousefur wonders what they're going to do, while shifting from paw to paw, as if she wants to race out of camp and confront the enemies right away. She thens asks Firestar if he's not thinking of joining the new TigerClan.
- He assures her he never would, but they need time to think and rest. He yawns and stretches, continuing that for now, they'll need extra patrols, and if there are any volunteers to go out at dawn. Mousefur offers instantly, and Firestar thanks her, warning to keep a lookout along the border of ShadowClan, and if they come across any of Tigerstar's warriors, she knows what to do. Cloudtail agrees, lashing his tail eagerly, and offers to join Mousefur, saying he could do with ShadowClan fur to line his nest.
- Firestar doesn't try to check the young tom's hostility; no cat could ever doubt Cloudtail's loyalty to his Clan, however scornful he is about StarClan and the warrior code. Whitestorm names Brackenfur and Thornclaw to join the patrol as well, and all four cats pad off to get rest before dawn. One by one, the others head for their dens, and Firestar is aware of their shock, and the fear they haven't succeeded in hiding. Eventually he is left alone with only Cinderpelt by his side, and he lets out a long sigh, murmuring if there'll ever be an end to this. Cinderpelt presses her muzzle comfortingly against his, mewing that she doesn't know, it's in the paws of StarClan. She narrows her eyes, going on that sometimes she doesn't believe there will be any peace in the forest until Tigerstar is dead.
- Later, Firestar is training his apprentice, Bramblepaw, ordering the young cat to attack him. A few fox-lengths away, Bramblepaw is crouched on the floor of the hollow. He waits as the apprentice begins to creep toward him, his amber eyes darting from side to side as if he's choosing the best place to strike. A heartbeat later, Bramblepaw launches himself into the air, but Firestar is ready, and slips rapidly to one side, butting Bramblepaw in the flank as he comes down, and the tabby loses his balance and rolls over, his paws scuffing up dust. Firestar tells him that he'll have to be quicker than that, don't give his enemy time to think. Bramblepaw scrambles up, spitting out sand and immediately springs again, his outstretched paw catches his mentor on the side of the head, thrusting him sideways so that his paws slide out from under him. Bramblepaw holds him down, his nose almost touching Firestar's, asking if that was right.
- Firestar pushes him off, complaining for the great lump to let him, and shakes sand out of his pelt, and adds, just like that, he's shaping up well. Bramblepaw's eyes glow and Firestar suddenly feels like he is looking at a young Tigerstar - but this is what Tigerstar should have been; strong, skillful, brave, and ambitious, but in Bramblepaw, all of the ambition seemed to be focused on becoming the best warrior that he could be in the service of his Clan. Firestar can't help but let out a purr of satisfaction. Amid all the troubles, it was a relief to escape for a short time for a training session with Bramblepaw.
- Then Bramblepaw speaks, his words remind him of his heavier responsibilities. He asks why every cat thinks it would be so bad to be part of TigerClan. Firestar feels a surge of anger and he can hardly believe his apprentice just asked the question. Bramblepaw flinches, but goes on, steadily meeting the older cat's gaze, saying that Ashpaw told him what Tigerstar said, and it's true times are hard, every cat is always complaining about the shortage of prey and how there are now more Twolegs in the forest than ever before, and TigerClan will be the strongest Clan in if RiverClan joins with ShadowClan, so wouldn't it make sense to join. Firestar takes a deep breath; after all, he had asked questions like these before when he first came to the forest and didn't understand why there should be rivalry and battle between the Clans. He sits down beside Bramblepaw, meowing that it's not as simple as that, for one thing, there have always been four Clans in the forest, and for another, it would mean the end of ThunderClan. Bramblepaw wonders why.
- Firestar tries to speak gently, remembering he is talking about the young cat's father, but there is no hiding the truth, and explains that they cannot believe Tigerstar when he says the four leaders would rule jointly, he would take control, and they would lose everything that makes them ThunderClan. For a few heartbeats, Bramblepaw is silent, then he meows that he sees, and thanks Firestar, that's what he wanted to know. Firestar springs to his paws, meowing for them to continue with the session. But as they go on, he finds that his optimism about Bramblepaw's loyalties has started to fade.
- After the training session ends, Firestar sends Bramblepaw to hunt for the elders. He is about to return to camp when Cloudtail bounds over the top of the training hollow, closely followed by Brightheart. Cloudtail meows that they're going to practice Brightheart's fighting moves, and asks if he'd like to see how she's coming on. Firestar agrees; even though her wounds are healed, he finds it hard to think of her as a fighting cat. He can't imagine she would ever be able to go into battle with her Clan. But since her name change, she looked much happier and more confident, and he wants to encourage her as much as he could.
- Cloudtail and Brightheart run into the middle of the hollow, and for a few heartbeats, the two prowl around each other, then Cloudtail darts in and gives Brightheart a couple of blows with sheathed paws on the blind side of her head. Brightheart rolls with the impact and Firestar tenses, imagining the damage an enemy cat might have done with his claws out and all his strength behind the blow. But instead of rolling away from Cloudtail, Brightheart propels herself toward him, tangling her paws with his and throwing him off balance.
- Firestar pricks his ears with interest as the two cats writhe together on the ground, and suddenly, Brightheart is on top, pinning Cloudtail down with one paw on his neck. Firestar pads over, mewing he has never seen that before. Brightheart releases Cloudtail and the white warrior jumps up and shakes the sand out of his fur. Firestar tells Brightheart to try it on him. Looking nervous, Brightheart faces him and Firestar finds it harder than he expected to come up on her blind side; the young she-cat keeps weaving back and forth so he has to change his position. When he finally leaps at her, she slides under his outstretched paws and trips him in the same way that she had surprised Cloudtail. For a few heartbeats they wrestle together until Firestar manages to hold her down. Cloudtail strolls up beside them, looking delighted as he meows it's harder then it looks, isn't it. Firestar agrees, telling Brightheart she did well, and lets her up, her uninjured eye shines at his praise, and for the first time, he begins to wonder if she has a future of a warrior after all. He tells her to keep practicing, and to let him watch her again soon, he thinks she might have something to teach the Clan.
- After the storm, the weather turns cold again and every morning the grass and ferns are furred with frost, and there is a light fall of snow. Prey is becoming scarcer and what the hunters managed to catch was thin and scrawny, hardly a mouthful for a hungry cat. Graystripe complains that if he doesn't get a decent meal soon he'll fade away to a shadow. He and Firestar are on patrol not far from Fourtrees, along with Longtail and Thornclaw. Firestar had hoped they would find more prey farther from camp where the fire had never reached, but the catch is still pitifully small.
- Firestar meows that he's going to try down by the stream. He heads down the slope to where a thicker growth of fern and shrubs mark the line of the stream. When he pauses to taste the air, the prey-scent is faint and he can't hear any small sounds that would have alerted him to creatures in the grass. The Clan is growing weaker with so little fresh-kill, and Firestar wonders if they'll be strong enough to defend themselves from the new threat of TigerClan. His pawsteps lead him by instinct down toward the stream and he crouches to drink, prodding the thin ice away the very edge and shaking icy drops off his paw when it gives way.
- As Firestar bends his head to lap, the sun comes out behind him, striking through the leaves and light dazzles on the water and surrounds Firestar's reflection with golden rays. For a moment, the image of his head disappears and is replaced by a roaring lion, the beast Firestar had heard from elders' tales, his flame-colored pelt blazing into a luxuriant mane, and his eyes shining with unlimited strength and power. Startled, Firestar leaps backward, letting out a yowl as he crashes into a tree and stumbles into the dead leaves among the roots. When he looks up, Spottedleaf is facing him from across the stream. The beautiful tortoiseshell's eyes brimming with amusement and she lets out a little mrrow of laughter.
- Firestar gasps her name, surprised; she has never came to him in the waking world before, and he wonders what this might mean. He springs to his paws, ready to splash through the stream to her side, but she signals with her tail for him to stay put, telling him to take heed of what he has seen, learn what he must be, her amusement vanishing like frost at dawn. Firestar urgently asks what she means, but as she finishes, Spottedleaf begins to fade, her eyes resting on him, filled with love, and her body pales until Firestar can the the bank of the stream through it. He begs for her to not leave him yet, he needs her. But her eyes shine for a heartbeat longer, and then she's gone.
- Graystripe's voice calls Firestar's name and he shakes himself to clear his head and turns around to face his friend as he comes padding down the bank. He asks if he's okay, he yowled loud enough to scare all the prey between here and Fourtrees. Firestar replies that he's fine, something startled him, that's all. Graystripe examines him for a moment longer, as if he's not quite satisfied with the explanation, then turns away, mewing if he says so, and retreats up the bank, adding to come and see the rabbit Longtail caught - it's as big as a fox. Firestar remains in his place, trembling from the shock of the vision. He had seen himself as one of the old warriors of LionClan. Bluestar's prophecy echoes in his head again; Lion and Tiger will meet in battle. He wonders if this means a new Clan - LionClan - would arise to combat TigerClan, and if StarClan intended Firestar to lead it.
Notes and references
|The Darkest Hour 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|
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