|"Then leave. And go with our blessing. Come back whenever you want."|
|— Tall Shadow to Moon Shadow in The Sun Trail, page 226|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter seventeen of The Sun Trail. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 17 (of 26)
- Page Numbers: 220-226
- Gray Wing's first instinct is to throw himself into the battle. But he knew how it'd end; he'd be torn to pieces. He thinks that he can't just leave the others, and Turtle Tail appears at her side and gasps about the foxes. Bumble warned Turtle Tail about them and asks what they're going to do. At that moment Clear Sky tears past, claws out and teeth bared. Swiftly Gray Wing moves out to block him. Clear Sky snarls at him, saying to Gray Wing to let him at them.
- Meowing urgently that they need a plan as the sounds of wailing and growling rise around him, he knows they need to think fast. A picture rises in his mind of how they had haunted eagles in the mountains, where one cat would pull the bird down and others would pile in to kill it. He glances from Clear Sky to Turtle Tail and back again, and tells them they attack one fox and kill it if they can, then pick on the next. Turtle Tail nods eagerly, but Clear Sky asks about the others and how they could be dying while they attack one fox. Turtle Tail responds that they can't do anything split up, and Gray Wing continues they need to be quick, and orders Clear Sky to attack from one side, and Turtle Tail from the other, to confuse it. Clear Sky asks what about him, and he replies grimly he'll be there.
- The three cats prowl around the edge of the hollow, trying to make sense of the chaos below. At last Gray Wing spots a fox at the edge of the fighting, standing under Hawk Swoop twitching feebly. Gray Wing screeches at them to attack, and Clear Sky leaps and claws at the fox's flank. It turns on him with a snarl, Turtle Tail attacking from the other side. The fox turns its head this way and that, snapping its jaws but unable to reach Clear Sky and Turtle Tail as they dart in to claw it and leap out of range. Gray Wing, thinking about how his plan is working, launches himself into the air and lands on the fox's back. Digging his hind claws into the fox's shoulders, he leans over its face and tears at its eyes and muzzle.
- Shrieking, the fox rears up, trying to shake Gray Wing off, but he hung tight. As Turtle Tail and Clear Sky harry the fox from both sides, the fox heads for the edge of the hollow. Once it's out on the moorland, Gray Wing leaps clear of it and watches it flee into the darkness. Clear Sky yowls triumphantly that he wants to leap on the next fox, and he spins around, leading the way back to the bottom of the hollow. Tall Shadow and Jackdaw's Cry are battling a second fox but Jackdaw's Cry staggers with exhaustion, and blood drips into Tall Shadow's eyes from a scratch on her forehead. Turtle Tail and Gray Wing hurl themselves into the battle, attacking the fox from both sides. Clear Sky leaps onto its back, slashing at its ears as it weaved side to side to escape.
- In heartbeats, it gives up and flees. The third fox turns from worrying at Cloud Spots, who is feebly swiping at the fox with his hind paws and realises its alone. Yelping with fear, it scrambles up the slope after the others. Clear Sky bounds after it and halts at the rim of the hollow, yowling at it to never come back. Gray Wing glances around. Jackdaw's Cry is on the ground panting but doesn't seem like he's badly injured. Moon Shadow was limping and Rainswept Flower had tufts of fur torn from her pelt. Jagged Peak bleeds from the scratches on his side and the others had their own signs of the foxes' savagery, but at least they were all moving. Gray Wing fears Hawk Swoop was killed, but even she staggers to her paws. Cloud Spots turns to examine Tall Shadow's scratch. Dappled Pelt's whiskers approvingly twitch and she pads over. Working together, they begin to move from one cat to another, examining their wounds.
- Turtle Tail and Clear Sky trot up to Gray Wing, and Turtle Tail exclaims they won and calls Gray Wing awesome. Clear Sky approvingly nods and meows that fighting together worked well, and suggests that they should practice, in case there's trouble. Gray Wing gives him a somber glance and agrees that there will be more trouble.
- Cold dawn light shows Gray Wing the devastation in the hollow; nests were scattered and trampled, turf scored by claws, and branches broken from the gorse bushes. The injured cats huddle in whatever shelter they find, and Gray Wing wonders what will happen to them now. He licks the wound on his shoulder as the dawn light gradually strengthens. After a while he sees Clear Sky get up and speak with Moon Shadow, and both cats pad across the hollow until they reach Tall Shadow. Curious, Gray Wing gets to his paws and follows.
- Clear Sky begins there's something he wants to say. Tall Shadow looks up; she and Rainswept Flower were picking thorns out of their pads, and she tells them to go on. Moon Shadow continues that he thinks they should go and live among the trees, as the hunting is easier there, and they'd be better hidden. Clear Sky adds they're too exposed in the moorland, waving his tail to indicate the wreckage around them, and there's no defense against foxes or anything else that feels like attacking them. Tall Shadow glances sharply from Clear Sky to Moon Shadow, then back again. She objects they've always lived in high places, and Rainswept Flower adds that Shaded Moss wouldn't have wanted them to split up.
- Clear Sky says Shaded Moss isn't there anymore, and Rainswept Flower winces at his blunt words. By now more cat realised something important was going on, and gathered around, listening with wide, troubled eyes. Gray Wing's belly churns with tension at the thought of leaving the open spaces. Jackdaw's Cry pitches in saying he can't imagine wanting to live among the trees and asks about the cats who already live there. Moon Shadow replies that they'll deal with them and Hawk Swoop protests that it's not too easy, saying that it could be good to live in the forest, but she doesn't think that they should split up. Tall Shadow thinks for a moment and mews that they'll cast stones to decide whether they move or not, just like in the cave. A murmur of agreement rises from the listening cats, and Jackdaw's Cry and Falling Feather get up to forage for pebbles. Others gather around as the pair carry the stones back and pile them up beside Tall Shadow. She announces that if they want to stay on the moor, to put their stone on the bare patch of grass; if they want to move, beside the gorse bush.
- Tall Shadow is the first to vote, putting her stone on the bare patch. Rainswept Flower does the same, and tension settles over the cats as they move forward to pick up a stone. Gray Wing places his on the bare patch, and as the voting continues he's relieved to see that most of the others want to stay. Only Moon Shadow, Clear Sky, Quick Water and Falling Feather choose to move to the trees. Jagged Peak's the last to pick up his pebble. He shoots an apologetic glance to Gray Wing, and places it under the gorse bush. Tall Shadow looks at both piles of stones, and doesn't bother to count, as the result was clear. She announces they're staying, but Clear Sky springs to his paws, saying that cats who want to live in the trees should be allowed to. Moon Shadow adds that in the cave, the cats who wanted to stay stayed, and those who wanted to leave left and asks why it should be different. All of the cats gasp and Gray Wing feels like he's been struck by a falling rock. He wonders if they can really separate, after coming so far together.
- Taking a deep breath, Tall Shadow tells them to leave. There's no anger in her tone; only sadness. She says to go with their blessing, and to come back whenever they want. The cats who voted to leave rise and gather together. Shock tingles through Gray Wing and he wonders if it's truly what's right for them.
- Clear Sky, Moon Shadow, Quick Water, Falling Feather, and Jagged Peak leave Tall Shadow's camp to live in the forest.
Notes and references
|The Sun Trail 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 • Bonus Scene|
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