|"They're breaking through, and when the battle comes, it will be for real."|
|— Lionblaze about the Dark Forest in The Fourth Apprentice, page 302|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty six of The Fourth Apprentice. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 26 (of 26)
- Page Numbers: 296-302
- Berrynose pokes his head into the nursery and asks why the kits aren't born yet. Jayfeather sighs and tells him that it's not quite time, and that he shouldn't worry. Jayfeather feels powerful ripples pass through Poppyfrost's body as her kits prepare to be born. Daisy is crouched beside the young queen's head, and Ferncloud strokes her pelt with a paw. Daisy suggests that Berrynose catch a shrew or something, but Berrynose demands to know why it is taking so long. Jayfeather rolls his eyes and remembers how when Daisy had first summoned him to the nursery, Berrynose had been adamant on staying with his mate. But he had been such a nuisance that Jayfeather has sent him outside, where he had been just as annoying by constantly pacing and sticking his head in every few minutes. Berrynose withdraws and continues pacing.
- It is night in the stone hollow, and wind rustles the tips of the trees. Two nights before, Jayfeather had gone to the Moonpool with the other medicine cats. He had hoped to learn more about Yellowfang's warning, but none of the other medicine cats had mentioned messages from StarClan or dreams of the Dark Forest. Jayfeather had dreamed of StarClan's hunting grounds, but no starry cats had appeared. A grunt of pain from Poppyfrost distracts Jayfeather, and he promises that it won't be long now. Daisy gives Poppyfrost a clump of wet moss to drink from. Berrynose sticks his head in again, and Ferncloud tells him that he isn't helping. Berrynose protests that they're his kits, and Poppyfrost reminds him that she's the one giving birth. Jayfeather hears Lionblaze outside the den asking what he can do to help, and Jayfeather tells him to keep Berrynose out of his fur. Berrynose draws back, and Lionblaze persuades him to come away from the nursery entrance.
- Poppyfrost grunts as another spasm passes, and a moment later, a kit slithers out onto the moss. Ferncloud exclaims that it's a beautiful tom. Jayfeather tells Poppyfrost that there's only one more, and thinks that the kit needs to come out soon so that Poppyfrost can get some rest. Daisy gives Poppyfrost another drink, and Ferncloud murmurs words of encouragement. Still, Poppyfrost is barely conscious when the last kit emerges. Daisy whispers that they're beautiful, and she and Daisy bend their heads to lick the kits. Poppyfrost gathers the kits toward her belly, and they begin to suckle. Jayfeather exclaims that it's all done, and tells Poppyfrost to eat some borage to help her milk come.
- As she licks up the herbs, Jayfeather, sensing that the den has gotten more crowded, tells Berrynose that he can come see his kits now. He turns, expecting to smell Berrynose, but is instead met with the tabby shapes of Tigerstar and Hawkfrost. The third cat is a tabby tom with a bent tail, whom Jayfeather recognizes as the cat who attacked him that night at the Moonpool with Breezepelt. Jayfeather is still frozen when Lionblaze enters the den and asks if Berrynose can come in yet. Lionblaze's eyes narrow and he turns to the Dark Forest cats, hissing that they can't have the kits. Jayfeather asks Lionblaze if he can see them, and Lionblaze replies with a snarl that he can. Daisy asks what Lionblaze is doing, and tells him to go get Berrynose. The three tabby cats vanish, and Jayfeather's vision goes dark once again. Lionblaze withdraws, and Jayfeather collects himself as Berrynose enters the nursery. He presses himself close to Poppyfrost and covers her face with licks, exclaiming that their kits will be the best in the Clan. Jayfeather scents Honeyfern wreathing around him, and hears a faint and murmured thank you.
- Jayfeather slips out into the clearing, where Lionblaze is waiting for him. He asks if he knew the third cat, and Jayfeather says that he recognizes him from when Breezepelt attacked him. Lionblaze is horrified, and Jayfeather quickly explains what happened at the Moonpool. He says that Breezepelt seemed to want vengeance on ThunderClan, because of what Leafpool and Crowfeather did. Lionblaze says that he can kind of understand that, then asks Jayfeather where the other cat came from. Jayfeather says that Yellowfang came to him in a dream, and that she knew the cat was from the Dark Forest. Jayfeather asks why the Dark Forest cats would want to be involved in new quarrels, and then remembers that that's what Rock told him.
- Lionblaze leads his brother out of camp, then says that he has a confession to make. He explains how Tigerstar used to train him in the Dark Forest at night, and Jayfeather asks Lionblaze why he didn't tell him. Lionblaze says that he thought it was his destiny, but that Tigerstar had lied. Jayfeather realizes that a battle between StarClan and the Dark Forest is imminent, and asks if the Dark Forest cats came to claim one of the kits in case it died. Lionblaze says that they can just train living cats, and admits that he thinks they're training Tigerheart already. Jayfeather remembers the night at the Moonpool, and realizes that they're training Breezepelt too. Jayfeather asks how they are able to touch the living world, and Lionblaze says that when he woke up from his dreams with Tigerstar, he had real injuries. Lionblaze growls that when the battle comes, it will be for real.
Notes and references
|The Fourth Apprentice 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|
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