|"[Tigerstar] believed the forest cats would be safer if they all joined under his leadership, and he thought BloodClan would convince you he was right."|
|— Leopardstar defending Tigerstar in The Darkest Hour, page 272|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty six of The Darkest Hour. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 26 (of 30)
- Page Numbers: 265-278
- Firestar wonders if the ThunderClan cats noticed his absence, and if they're worrying about him. He knows he should go back to camp, but for a short time he stays on the rock, watching the dawn light spread throughout the forest. The territory on the far side of the river is still and silent, and Firestar tries to imagine how Leopardstar is coping. He guesses the ShadowClan warriors who have fled into her territory would be unwelcome guests, with no prey to spare during the harsh leaf-bare.
- He sits bolt upright, fur bristling and ears pricked. Something has just occurred to Firestar- ThunderClan isn't as outnumbered as he feared. Across the river there are warriors of two Clans, and with Tigerstar dead none of them have a reason to support BloodClan. There was a chance that all four forest Clans can join together and drive out the lethal cats that are threatening every pawstep of their lives. Four would not become two- but one. As the first glittering rays of sunlight appear over the horizon, Firestar leaps down from the rock and races downstream toward the stepping-stones.
- A yowl brings him up short just as the stones come into his sight. Behind him, a ThunderClan patrol consisting of Sandstorm, Cloudtail, Bramblepaw, and Graystripe emerge from the trees. Sandstorm crossly asks him where he's been, and Firestar apologizes, saying he just needed to think. Graystripe tells him Whitestorm knew he would be okay and Cinderpelt didn't seem to be worried. Firestar mews briskly he's here now, and that he's going to RiverClan. Cloudtail asks him why, and the ThunderClan leader replies he's going to try and convince Leopardstar to fight with his Clan against Scourge. Firestar says now that Tigerstar's dead, she won't want BloodClan in the forest.
- Sandstorm's green eyes glow with delight as she tells the ginger tom she knew he would find a way to stop BloodClan. Firestar allows Bramblepaw to come with him on the patrol to see Tawnypaw. Firestar and his cats approach the stepping-stones, alert for movement. Although the sun is high in the horizon, there are no signs of a RiverClan patrol. He turns upriver toward the RiverClan camp, and finds the stream leading up to the Bonehill. A shudder passes through Firestar as he remembers the last time he saw the hill of bones. He recognizes the ominous scent of TigerClan.
- Firestar mews to his warriors that the cats might be closer to the Bonehill, and assigns Graystripe to keep a lookout while they investigate. The gray warrior falls back as the leader follows the stream, creeping among the reeds. Peering out when he reaches the clearing, he finds the Bonehill partly crumbled. The stream is now clean of fresh-kill, as if the cats have begun to establish a new camp. Several warriors huddle in the clearing, fur ungroomed and their eyes dull. Firestar is surprised to see ShadowClan warriors mixed in with RiverClan warriors while RiverClan continues to rebuild their old camp.
- Leopardstar is sitting at the foot of the Bonehill, giving no sign of noticing Firestar. Blackfoot, the ShadowClan deputy, sits nearby. Firestar is relieved he'll be able to deal with Leopardstar, who is trying to lead RiverClan and ShadowClan. He asks Sandstorm if she knows what's wrong with them, but she shakes her head. Firestar originally expected a fighting force, but the cats in the clearing are half-dead. Signalling for his cats to follow him, he leads them into the clearing. No cat challenges Firestar, only two cats give him a incurious stare. With a glance at him, Bramblepaw bounds off to find Tawnypaw. Leopardstar rasps Firestar's name and struggles to her paws.
- Firestar explains he's come to talk to her and begins to asks her some questions. Leopardstar holds his gaze and explains she's the sole leader of TigerClan now. She complains about RiverClan's old camp and how they are keeping the kits and elders there. She then laughs and asks what's the point because BloodClan will slaughter them all. Firestar tells Leopardstar she mustn't think like that, and if the Clans stand together they will drive out BloodClan. Leopardstar calls him a fool and asks him how he's going to do that. She then tells him if he remembers what Scourge did to Tigerstar, and Firestar replies he knows.
- He tells Leopardstar that the Clans can join together as one to fight Scourge so they can become four again, according to the warrior code. The leader doesn't reply. She explains she sent a patrol to Highstones, but not every cat can go, and the ones that'll stay will die. Firestar promises desperately they won't die, and ThunderClan and WindClan are going to fight, and he asks Leopardstar to stand with them. She doesn't mock him any further and stares at Firestar intently. Blackfoot scrambles to his paws to stand by her, and Firestar hears a growl from Graystripe. He gives a warning flick with his tail.
- Blackfoot growls at Leopardstar she seriously can't be thinking about joining up with ThunderClan and WindClan. He claims they're not strong enough to fight BloodClan and they'll tear them to shreds. She just coldly stares at him, and Firestar wonders if she doesn't like him any more than he does. He remembers Stonefur, the RiverClan deputy who died under Blackfoot's claws. Leopardstar reprimands Blackfoot, and she says she won't give up if there's hope BloodClan can be driven out, and asks Firestar if he has a plan. Firestar wishes he has a clever trick to drive out BloodClan that wouldn't affect every cat in the forest. He replies that at dawn tomorrow, ThunderClan and WindClan will meet at Fourtrees with BloodClan, and with RiverClan and ShadowClan they'll be twice as strong.
- Leopardstar asks Firestar if he'll lead them, and she adds reluctantly she isn't strong enough to lead. He blinks in surprise, he thought she would demand authority over all the Clans. He isn't sure about leading, but he knows there's no choice. Suddenly, a harsh voice filled with mockery calls out to Leopardstar, asking if she's going to let a kittypet lead them. Firestar turns, knowing that is Darkstripe who said that. He finds the tabby sitting near his former Clanmates. Darkstripe's coat is no longer sleek and shiny, but dull. His eyes burn with hostility and he stares at the leaders with insolence. Firestar acknowledges the tabby with a nod, and thinks that although he can never have pity on him, he feels a pang to see how Darkstripe looks.
- Leopardstar tells Darkstripe this isn't his decision. Darkstripe snarls at Firestar he should be driven out because he turned Scourge against Tigerstar, and that it's the ThunderClan leader's fault he died. Firestar is shocked, and knows he is grieving for the dead leader. The tabby warrior is now alone. He corrects him and says it was Tigerstar's fault he died, if he didn't bring BloodClan to the forest he would still be here. Graystripe breaks in and says he wants to know what happened, and if Tigerstar knew what he was letting loose in the forest. Leopardstar defends Tigerstar, but her words are hollow as she says he thought what he was doing was best.
- Leopardstar then flicks her tail, and a skinny gray tom appears. Firestar recognizes Boulder, one of the rogues Tigerstar took in. She orders Boulder to explain what happened. The ShadowClan warrior explains he was once a member of BloodClan, and although he left moons ago, Tigerstar knew about his past. The leader asked him to take him to Twolegplace to make sure TigerClan controlled the forest, and they went despite Boulder's warnings about Scourge. Tigerstar wanted cats to assist him in controlling the forest, and once all the cats joined him he would ask BloodClan to leave. Firestar then says Tigerstar was wrong, feeling the strange grief again from when he saw the dead leader.
- Boulder continues, saying they were shocked when Tigerstar died, they thought nothing was able to kill him. Later, BloodClan attacked their camp, but they were too shocked to fight. Some cats, like Jaggedtooth, joined BloodClan, though some didn't leave. Firestar then asks Leopardstar if she will stand with ThunderClan and WindClan. The cats in the clearing come closer except for Blackfoot and Darkstripe. Leopardstar replies she doesn't know and she needs more time to think. Firestar gathers his warriors and tells her to think now.
- The RiverClan leader flashes him a defiant glance, as if she wants to insist she needs more time, but instead gathers some warriors and talks to them in a low voice. Blackfoot thrusts his way forward to join them, his eyes full of anger. Bramblepaw comes up to Firestar and says Tawnypaw wants to talk to him. The young she-cat returns his gaze formidably, reminding him of her mother, Goldenflower. Firestar prompts Tawnypaw to speak, and she meows he wants to know why she left ThunderClan. She left because she didn't want to be judged because of Tigerstar being her father, and she wanted to feel belonged. Firestar tries to protest, and he admits he made a mistake.
- Firestar says he didn't want her to leave, but Tawnypaw says others did. Bramblepaw pleads she can still rejoin ThunderClan, but she sharply interrupts him. Tawnypaw states she didn't ask to come back, and all she wants is to be loyal in her new Clan, and she can't be that in ThunderClan. Firestar can hardly bear to see all the courage and loyalty ThunderClan is losing. He wishes Tawnypaw well, and when all four Clans fight tomorrow he believes they'll win the forest, and Tawnypaw will have a Clan that is proud of her. She thanks Firestar, and Leopardstar pads toward him, and announces she has made her decision. The ginger tom's heart begins to pound; if she doesn't join with ThunderClan and WindClan, there will be no hope in driving out BloodClan.
- Leopardstar announces RiverClan will fight, with Blackfoot also announcing ShadowClan will fight too. Although both leaders have agreed to fight, some cats doubt their decision. Darkstripe yells they're all mad and they're following a kittypet. Leopardstar tells Darkstripe he will obey orders, but he retorts to make him. The RiverClan leader shrugs and tells the dark tabby he is as much use as a dead fox and he can do what he likes. The cats murmur about him, then Darkstripe calls them fools, and that they'll be ripped apart the next day. He walks out of the camp. Leopardstar swears by StarClan she'll go to Fourtrees tomorrow to fight BloodClan, then orders Shadepelt to send out hunting patrols.
- Shadepelt does as she's told and gathers some warriors. Leopardstar looks at the Bonehill with deep sadness and says they must take it down. She digs her claws into the bones and her warriors join her. Blackfoot and his warriors watch from a distance. Firestar draws his followers away, and he can't help but admire Leopardstar's courage. He feels a dark sense of foreboding as he casts one last glance at the two Clans in the clearing, and he wonders if he's condemned them all to death.
Notes and references
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, chapter 18
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 266
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 268
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 271
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 273
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 274
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 277
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, chapter 18
- Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 270
|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|