"There's no hope for any of us while Scourge is in the forest."
Firestar to Ravenpaw and Barley in The Darkest Hour, page 250

Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty four of The Darkest Hour. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
Chapter Number: 24 (of 30)
Page Numbers: 245-257

Chapter description

Firestar wakes up the following morning and exits his den to see Mousefur leading a patrol. Sandstorm, meanwhile, herds Willowpelt's kits to the training hollow, Mistyfoot, Featherpaw, and Stormpaw following behind. Firestar decides to join Whitestorm, Bramblepaw, and Ashpaw. Whitestorm informs Firestar that the two apprentices are reinforcing the camp walls. Ravenpaw and Barley suddenly enter the camp. Ravenpaw tells Firestar that they must speak with him. He mentions that he and Barley met Onewhisker on the border of WindClan territory, where he told them of Scourge. They offer their help, much to Firestar's gratefulness. He leads them under the Highrock to his den.
Barley reveals that he had once been a member of BloodClan and that his mother taught him and his littermates to hunt and defend themselves. He states that BloodClan do not have a proper system of mentors and apprentices. Barley adds that Bone is a kind of deputy of BloodClan. He explains that a she-cat's mate will hunt for her, but elders are left to fend for themselves. Firestar questions why any cat would follow Scourge due to this, to which Barley responds that some of the cats enjoy killing, and some are too scared to do anything else. He continues to reveal his past life in BloodClan, saying that he slipped away one night, crossed the Thunderpath, and stumbled upon the farm. Barley states that Scourge's greatest strength is his greatest weakness in that he has no belief in StarClan and has no medicine cat. Ravenpaw asserts that he and Barley will assist ThunderClan in the battle against Scourge and his followers. Firestar retorts, but Barley and Ravenpaw insist on helping.
After Ravenpaw and Barley leave, Firestar decides to check on the training progress of the apprentices in the sandy hollow. Before he leaves, he notices Longtail and Frostfur approaching. Longtail reports that the scent of BloodClan is coming from ShadowClan territory. Frostfur points out that they must be hiding in the territory. Firestar wonders where ShadowClan must've gone, to which Longtail replies that ShadowClan scent was at Fourtrees, and that they must've crossed into RiverClan territory. Frostfur and Longtail disband from Firestar. Firestar approaches Graystripe, who seems to be determined. Firestar longs to tell Graystripe that he saw Silverstream in his dream at the Moonstone, but decides against it. Graystripe is distracted by a play-fight between Bramblepaw and Thornclaw, and goes to correct Bramblepaw's attacks.
Firestar gazes across the camp, noticing Smallear and Speckletail. He also notices that Sandstorm is still training Willowpelt's kits. Sorrelkit, Sootkit, and Rainkit all attack Sandstorm, who praises them. Sandstorm tells Firestar that the kits will make great warriors yet. The three kits protest that they want Sandstorm to be their mentor, but Sandstorm dismisses this and continues their training. Firestar watches the kits scuffle together, pretending to attack and defend themselves. Even though they are excited, they manage to remember what Sandstorm taught them, dodging expertly or dashing in to give their mock attacker quick nips. She quietly comments to Firestar that the kits are good, especially Sorrelkit. Sandstorm adds she'd like to mentor Sorrelkit, and Firestar agrees.
Even though Firestar, Sandstorm, the kits, and the Clan are on the brink of disaster, he can't suppress a burst of pride and hope. Pressing his muzzle against Sandstorm's side, Firestar murmurs they'll win the battle, but the pale ginger she-cat doesn't reply, but the look she gives him tells everything. Leaving Sandstorm to continue her lesson, Firestar pads over to Cloudtail and Brightheart, who are training with Dustpelt and Ashpaw.
Brightheart bowls over Dustpelt, and the dark brown tom asks for her to do it again. The she-cat drops into a crouch, but relaxes when she sees Firestar. Cloudtail pads over and asks his former mentor if he saw Brightheart, and adds she fights really well now. Firestar tells Brightheart to carry on, and she flashes him a nervous look from her only eye, then turns back to concentrate. She weaves back and forth, keeping him in view. When he springs at her, she slips under his outstretched paws and hits Dustpelt's hind legs to roll him on the ground again. Cloudtail jokes he knows why Dustpelt is called Dustpelt as the latter gets up and shakes his fur. Firestar praises Brightheart, and twitches his ears to draw Cloudtail away.
The ginger leader says he's going to see Princess, and figures the white tom would want to come too. Cloudtail's ears prick, and asks if he's going to warn his kittypet sister about BloodClan. Firestar says yes, and she should know of the danger with BloodClan on the prowl. He knows she doesn't go out into the forest that often, and he begins another sentence before Cloudtail cuts him off and says he'll be right with Firestar. A moment later the two are traveling to Tallpines, with Firestar saying a quick goodbye to Graystripe as they leave the hollow. Firestar reflects the leaf-bare would be hard enough without the threats from BloodClan.
When Firestar and Cloudtail reach the Twoleg nest where Princess lives, the leader is relieved to see his sister sitting on the fence. She lets out a trill of welcome as he leaps on onto the fence, with Cloudtail following Firestar. Princess exclaims a hello to Firestar and Cloudtail, mistakenly calling her brother Fireheart, not knowing he had become leader. The brown-and-white she-cat asks if her son and brother are doing well. Cloudtail corrects her and tells Princess his former mentor is Clan leader now, and he's known as Firestar. Princess states that's wonderful.
Firestar knows she's proud of him even though she had no understanding about what becoming leader meant- the grief of losing Bluestar, or the heavy responsibilities of leadership. Princess goes on, then adds doubtfully they're very thin and if Firestar and Cloudtail are eating properly. Firestar knows that is a hard question to answer. His cats are used to being hungry in this harsh leaf-bare, but Princess has no way of knowing how scarce the prey is. Before he can reply, Cloudtail impatiently repeats they're doing well, and they came to warn her to stay out of the forest, as there's evil cats around.
Firestar flashes a look at his nephew; the leader would have warned Princess in a gentler way. He explains Twolegplace cats have come into the forest, pressing himself against his sister. He says they're fierce creatures but they'll leave her alone. Princess admits she's seen them slinking through the trees, and heard tales about them killing dogs and other cats. Firestar knows the tales are true, remembering the teeth studded on Scourge's collar. He tells Princess all good storytellers exaggerate, hoping to sound convincing. She doesn't need to worry, but it should be best for her to stay in her garden.
Princess holds Firestar's gaze steadily, and he realizes she isn't deceived by his lighthearted tone. She says she'll stay in her garden and warn the other house cats. Cloudtail meows for her to not worry, as they'll get rid of BloodClan. Princess echoes the rogue Clan's name, as she asks Firestar if he's really in danger. Her brother nods, suddenly unwilling to treat her like a soft kittypet who can't cope with the truth. He says BloodClan has given them three days to leave the forest, but the Clans refuse to leave so they will fight. Princess gives Firestar a long, thoughtful look, the tip of her tail sweeping around to touch a scar on his flank.
Firestar has a sudden vision of how he must look like to Princess: gaunt and ragged in spite of his thin muscles, his battle-scarred pelt the reminder of harsh forest life. She meows she knows he'll do his best, and ThunderClan couldn't have a better leader. Firestar mews he hopes she's right, BloodClan is the worst threat the Clans could ever face. Princess says Firestar will come through this. She rasps her tongue over her brother's ear and presses close to him. He can smell her fear-scent, but she stays calm, her gentle features unusually serious. She whispers to Firestar to come back safely.





Notes and references

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Revealed in The Darkest Hour, chapter 24
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 250
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 252
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 254
  5. Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 255
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 246
  7. Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 247
  8. 8.0 8.1 Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 251

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