|"Only if we survive the next attack."|
|— Dovewing's thoughts in The Last Hope, page 270|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty three of The Last Hope. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 23 (of 27)
- Page Numbers: 262-270
- Dovewing swerves, the patrol moving with her, and they begin to climb the slope. Treading lightly, she moves as slick as a weasel through the undergrowth. Suddenly, a thorn rips her leg, and she lets out a yelp. Cloudtail is at her side, asking if she's okay, and Dovewing notices the bramble that's looping around her paw, and the white tom presses closer. The gray she-cat can feel him trembling, and questions him. Cloudtail admits, while grabbing the bramble, that he never expects this. Twisting, he loosens the bramble around her paw. She asks what he means, then remembers in his reply that the white tom doesn't believe in StarClan. As she speaks, paws skid over the earth above them, and she thinks someone found them. As the pelt flashes toward them, she recognizes Darkstripe, and screeches at Cloudtail.
- Her Clanmate is rearing up, claws flashing, and muscle thumps against muscle as Darkstripe barrels into him. Staggering backwards, but staying on his paws, Cloudtail hisses he isn't surprised to see Darkstripe with the murderers. The striped gray tom challenges his faith, then calls him a kittypet after he replies. The white warrior retorts he believes in the warrior code, then flattens his ears, and swipes at Darkstripe. Blood sprays the forest floor as he slices the tom's nose, but Darkstripe growls and charges him, knocking him over. Leaping onto the white warrior's stomach, Cloudtail struggles to his paws, and Dovewing springs forward. She hooks her claws around the dark tom's shoulders and tears him off her Clanmate.
- The gray Dark Forest tom mocks her, calling her a 'brave little warrior' before thrusting out with his hind legs. He pushes himself backwards with such speed that Dovewing is sent flying, and she lands. While she's winded, Darkstripe manages to find his paws first, and catches her muzzle with a vicious kick. Half-blind from the pain, she catches a glimpse of Cloudtail beside her, his fur bushing out, and curls his lip at Darkstripe. The striped tom's pelt doesn't ripple, and, smooth as a snake, darts for Cloudtail, managing to get underneath him. He rakes the white tom's stomach, and blood sprays out. Dovewing staggers to her paws, hurling herself at the dark gray tom, and hooks her paws around his shoulders desperately.
- As Darkstripe tries to shake the smoky she-cat off, Dovewing manages to trip him. Together, they roll down the slope, brambles snagging their fur. Teeth rips her shoulder, and Dovewing forces herself to let go, and drag herself free, digging her claws into the soil to avoid falling. Darkstripe slashes her cheek with a blow that sends her reeling, and she staggers, looking for Cloudtail. Dovewing knows that she can't beat the dark warrior by herself, and Darkstripe curls his lip at her, glancing up the slope. With a gasp, Dovewing sees Cloudtail struggling with a tabby whose raking the white tom's spine. Her opponent says Sparrowfeather was finishing Cloudtail off, so she's his to kill.
- Rage pulses through her, and she remembers Firestar's order, then launches herself for Darkstripe. Snapping her jaws shut, her teeth sink right into the warrior's foreleg. He yowls, trying to free his leg, but she bites down even harder, feeling bone. Dovewing remembers Ivypool's training, and teeth clamps around her neck. Frantic, she manages to flip her hind legs, and gouge at Darkstripe's stomach until he lets go. She ducks away, brambles scraping her ears. A yowl splits the air, and she turns just in time to catch a swipe from Sparrowfeather. Reeling away, she lands hard, and paws thump against her side. The tabby cat leaps on top of her, and digs her claws into Dovewing's pelt, then begins raking her with her hind claws. The ThunderClan warrior struggles for air, as the breath was knocked from her in the fall, and Sparrowfeather rakes her side harder. As Dovewing feels a cry of agony rising in her throat, another Dark Forest cat charges past, telling them to come, as they're attacking the camp.
- Sparrowfeather's claws tear free, and she races off. Dovewing stumbles to her paws, and calls Cloudtail's name. She spots his white pelt, a few tail-lengths up the slope, slick with blood, and races up to him. Wincing from the pain, she tells the senior warrior that the Dark Forest is attacking the camp, and he hauls himself up. He plunges down the slope, but his front leg buckles beneath him. Dovewing catches up to him, questioning the tom on his leg, for her own pelt was fiery with pain. Cloudtail growls that he needs to be okay, and straightens up, pushing himself on. Outside the camp, Dovewing sees Sandstorm and Squirrelflight fending off a horde of Dark Forest warriors, who snap at them. The two she-cats match their blows; Sparrowfeather and Darkstripe barge through and join the assualt. Squirrelflight yowls for backup, and Brambleclaw, Leafpool, Dustpelt, and Cinderheart race from the camp's entrance. However, ragged pelts flock toward them, and start driving the Clan warriors back against the thorns. Ferns shiver on the far slope, and Firestar and Lionblaze crash through.
- Dovewing hears paw steps behind her, and Snowbird and Graystripe fly past, into the battle. Cloudtail blinks blood from his blue eyes, and jumps into the fray, Dovewing following. She spots Darkstripe's pelt, and slashes at him. She drops the swipes she was taught as an apprentice onto whichever pelts she could find, and spins around, raking warrior after warrior. Squirrelflight yelps beside her; Dovewing accidentally caught the orange warrior's pelt. Aplogizing quickly, she aims for a darker pelt, and sinks her teeth into the stinking flesh. Lionblaze yowls that they've reached the camp, and Dovewing spins to see the dark warriors swarming through the thorn tunnel, turning it into a ragged hole. Her former mentor flashes in after them, and Firestar orders some of his Clanmates after them. Her leader kicks back a Dark Forest tom, but Dovewing hears Ferncloud shriek.
- The gray cat tries to help, bounding for the thorn tunnel, but claws sink into her flesh and haul her back. Landing with a thump, she struggles up again, and spots familiar pelts on top of the slope: the WindClan and RiverClan warriors have made it. Dovewing hopes they're on the correct side, and as they thunder toward the fray, she watches them closely. Troutstream, Mintfur, and Pebblefoot hurl themselves into a fight beside her, and she's relieved to see them only swiping at Dark Forest cats. More of their enemies reach the camp, and Owlwhisker, Boulderfur, and Whitetail disappear through the tunnel after them.
- Shrieks echo from the hollow, and the RiverClan warriors turn tail-to-tail, forcing the Dark Forest cats apart. Dovewing flings herself between two tabbies, and thrusts them apart with whirling paws, and within moments, the dark warriors are split apart. Firestar lines up with Bumblestripe and Poppyfrost, and begin herding warriors toward the trees. Dovewing joins Millie and Squirrelflight, to help push away another cluster of dark cats. She rears up and dives forward, knowing where to aim, and nips at a tabby's legs. Millie bats the tom's muzzle, and Squirrelflight trips another. Dovewing slices the cat's ear.
- Their enemies look around in dismay at the fallen warriors, before retreating and fleeing. Spinning around, she sees Lionblaze in pursuit of a cat, driving it up the slope. Leafpool sends a black cat staggering; the Dark Forest wave is only a few stragglers now. Firestar growls at them to leave, standing stiff-legged, and the dark cats freeze, then flee. Ferncloud yowls after them, from where she stands. Pebblefoot and Sandstorm explode from the entrance, and drive the last remaining Dark Forest warriors out. As they hurtle past, Dovewing pricks her ears and follows the sound of their paws. Excitement rises in her chest, then stiffens up. Beyond the frightened wailing, she's able to hear fierce yowls. Recognizing them as battle cries, she listens closely, and paws slap toward them- not fleeing, but marching.
- Dovewing whispers about the upcoming wave, and Firestar orders Cloudtail, Dustpelt, and Pebblefoot to the medicine den. The trio limps across the thorns, leaving blood on them, and the ThunderClan leader scans the patrol. The smoky gray warrior sees Millie rubbing her torn ear, and her mate, Graystripe, presses against her, eye swollen. Poppyfrost licks her wrenched claw, and Mintfur sniffs a scratch on Troutstream's side. Smokefoot shakes out his ragged pelt; Leafpool weaves around the injured cats, and reports to Firestar. Brambleclaw ducks from the camp, announcing that it was clear, and the kits are safe.
- Firestar grimly replies, but Dovewing hears paw steps, and stiffens. Cloudtail arches his spine, demanding who it is, and a young ShadowClan cat appears. Brambleclaw pads toward the cat, who's revealed to be Stoatpaw and asks how ShadowClan is. The ginger tom exclaims that the camp's overrun, and Blackstar is losing a life. Smokefoot darts forward to meet Stoatpaw, while Snowbird and Oakfur stare, panic in their eyes. Poppyfrost asks where Cherrypaw is, and the ShadowClan cat blinks at her. The tortoiseshell warrior stiffens, and Leafpool presses against her, assuring the she-cat that she's probably at WindClan. Firestar looks at Dovewing, asking how near the next wave is, and the warrior concentrates. She notices the paw steps are still muffled by the Dark Forest mist, and she reports this.
- Firestar lashes his tail, ordering Graystripe and Lionblaze to head to ShadowClan, as they can manage without them. Dovewing trembles, wondering if they really can, because even though the paw steps were far, they approach steadily. She watches as her leader calls for Smokefoot, and tells the black tom to take his patrol back. The ShadowClan warrior nods, and Brambleclaw weaves forward, over to Lionblaze, and touches his muzzle to the tom's cheek. The golden warrior gazes at Brambleclaw for a moment, then pulls away, racing into the forest. Graystripe and the ShadowClan patrol hurtle after Lionblaze, with Stoatpaw trailing behind.
- Dovewing's stomach feels hollow as they disappear. She glances around at her Clanmates, and sees fear in their eyes. Ferncloud growls about the destroyed camp, and Firestar tells her they'll just rebuild it. The smoky warrior tries to block out the thrum of approaching paws, knowing only if they survive the next wave.
Notes and references
- ↑ Revealed in The Darkest Hour, chapter 23
- ↑ Revealed in The Last Hope, page 262
- ↑ Revealed in The Last Hope, page 263
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Revealed in The Last Hope, page 264
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Revealed in The Last Hope, page 265
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Revealed in The Last Hope, page 266
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Revealed in The Last Hope, page 267
- ↑ Revealed in The Last Hope, page 268
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Revealed in The Last Hope, page 269
|The Last Hope 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|
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