|"Maybe not all the other cats around here are our enemies."|
|— Rainswept Flower about the rogues in The Sun Trail, page 249|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty of The Sun Trail. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 20 (of 26)
- Page Numbers: 246-256
- Back in the hollow, Gray Wing notices that Jackdaw's Cry and Hawk Swoop had their heads together, laughter in their eyes as they mew something in low voices. He realises that Jackdaw's Cry is a full-grown cat taller than Hawk Swoop now, and the way they were standing close together made him think they were more than friends. A voice says it'll be good for all of the group to have some kits around and he jumps, not realising Dappled Pelt had padded up to him and was also watching the two cats. Shattered Ice grunts its more mouths to feed, even though her eyes had a glint of approval. Gray Wing feels like pelt prickle and he wonders what Storm was doing.
- Thinking about Storm made Gray Wing feel every muscle and sinew of his body burst with energy. Scrambling out of the hollow, he races across the moor, pumping his legs to go faster and faster for the sheer joy of speed. The cool touch of wind to his pelt makes him feel like he could run forever.
- But as he reaches the top of a rise Gray Wing is almost carried off his paws by a hare crashing into him with a squeal of alarm. Instinctively he lashes out, tearing its throat with his claws. It drops twitching at his paws and goes still. For a heartbeat, Gray Wing is pleased with his easy catch, then he looks up to see Gorse and Wind heading toward him at a run. He mutters and instantly taking a pace back and he adds a sorry as the two rogues come up to him, saying it landed right on top of him and he didn't mean to steal their prey.
- Wind gives a friendly blink and mews she saw what happened and adds it's a big hare that Gray Wing's welcome to share with them. Gorse agrees that they all have to eat and there's plenty for everyone. Dipping his head, Gray Wing adds it was good the other day learning about how they hunt rabbits and suggests giving them some tips about hunting too. Gorse and Wind glance at each other and Gray Wing hoped he hadn't offended them. Eventually, Wind purrs that it could be a good idea. Gorse asks if they could just eat, swiping his tongue over his jaws as he gazes at the prey. Wind sighs and calls him a greedy belly, suggesting to Gray Wing that as they eat he should tell them more about himself and his friends. Gray Wing looks at them, pleased that they weren't hostile and replies he comes from the mountains. Impulsively he asks if they want to come down and meet his friends.
- After glancing at each other, Gorse and Wind accept and Gorse mews they can all share the hare. Gray Wing begins to have misgivings as he leads the way, Gorse and Wind behind him, dragging the hare between them. He thinks about how no cats have visited the hollow before. Not even Storm went the whole way in. As he pads down into the scoop he sees the others emerge from their nests under the gorse bushes and stare curiously at the newcomers. Tall Shadow pads into the middle of the hollow and waits for Gray Wing to approach. Tall Shadow asks what's happening and Gray Wing introduces Gorse and Wind, the cats who live on the moor. Tall Shadow narrows her eyes and reminds Gray Wing they had trouble with them and they accused him of stealing prey and Jackdaw's Cry slides out his claws.
- Gorse mews he's sorry and they know they got it wrong, dipping his head politely. Wind adds they brought the hare to share with Tall Shadow and she hesitates, then gives a curt nod. She cooly mews a welcome and Gray Wing's friends gathered around the hare with Gorse and Wind. Between eating and answering questions that Gorse and Wind kept asking about their journey and the mountains, the cats grow more friendly. Even Tall Shadow relaxes to take a few mouthfuls.
- Later, when Gorse and Wind leave, Rainswept Flower pads over to Gray Wing. She comments that maybe not all the other cats around here are enemies because Wind and Gorse seem pretty decent. Gray Wing nods but he hears a sniff from Tall Shadow and realises it would take a lot to make her accept any other cats. A couple of heartbeats later, Turtle Tail appears at the top of the hollow with a bunch of leaves in her jaws. Gray Wing narrows his eyes in suspicion, tasting the air to check if she was carrying the scent of Twolegplace. He asks Turtle Tail where she's been and before Turtle Tail can reply Cloud Spots appears behind her also carrying a mouthful of herbs. He thanks Turtle Tail, saying that there's so much stuff growing by the river and it was a real help having her there.
- Guilt prickles Gray Wing like a claw in his skin and he reprimands himself for being so suspicious. He follows Turtle Tail as she sets down the herbs she's carrying by Cloud Spots' nest. He apologises to Turtle Tail, saying it isn't up to him to say where she goes. She blinks, seeming happy that Gray Wing had apologised, and purrs it's okay.
- The following morning, Gray Wing feels as if ants were crawling through his pelt. He'd been meaning to get more bedding for his nest, but the task seems utterly boring and pointless. He thinks about visiting Clear Sky but his paws didn't want to carry him in that direction and about how the sun had never crept so slowly up into the sky. Turtle Tail bounces up to him and butts his shoulder, asking if he wants to come hunting with her. Gray Wing stares at Turtle Tail, for a moment hardly registering what she said, before meowing, at last, he can't because he's meeting a cat. She gives him a curious look and asks who it is - Gray Wing answers its Storm, the one she met yesterday. She draws her head back suddenly as if some cat had swiped at her. To Gray Wing's surprise, there's a hurt look in her eyes and she mutters that he can go meet Storm.
- Gray Wing forgets about her odd behavior almost at once. Thinking he has to go meet Storm, he races across the moor, sunhigh still some way off by the time he stood at the top of the hollow with the four oaks. Cool fronds of fern brush his pelt as he makes his way down the slope toward the trees. He pounces on a flickering spot of golden sunlight, then twitches his whiskers in embarrassment at the thought he'd been behaving like a kit. He thinks he could climb one of the oaks, then leap down on Storm to surprise her. Bounding lightly across the hollow he hurls himself upon the trunk of the nearest tree, trying to remember how Clear Sky and Jagged Peak did it, thinking about how they made it look so easy. Gray Wing clambers up several tail-lengths by digging his claws into the bark but as he reaches the lowest branches he gets his head stuck in a clump of twigs and leaves and couldn't see where he was going. A piece of bark peels away from the tree and he finds himself dangling by one forepaw.
- An amused voice below asks if he's having fun, and Gray Wing's belly freezes. Grabbing for support on the tree again and managing to look down, he sees Storm standing on one of the tree roots, looking up at him, eyes gleaming with laughter. As quickly as he could, Gray Wing curses haredung to himself and scrambles down, jumping the last couple of tail-lengths. He tries to sound nonchalant as he mews a hello and explains he just wanted to find out how much he could see from up there. Storm responds that hedgehogs fly, flicking her tail-tip over his ear and asks if they're going or not.
- Without waiting for a reply she leads the way out of the hollow and plunges into the forest. Before long they come to a stream that chatters over stones, its surface glittering in the sunlight. Storm pads alongside it until she reached a dead branch that spans it side to side; she runs lightly across and waits for Gray Wing to follow. He asks if its the stream that joins the river near the big rocks as he jumps off the end of the branch to join her, and Storm replies that's right and he's been there. Gray Wing nods and says he explored them with his brother and adds the question if Storm lives around here as they bound on through the trees. Replying airily with a wave of her tail, Storm says there are good places all over the forest. She angles her ears towards a tumble of rocks half hidden in the trees and warns Gray Wing not to go down in that direction as there's snakes, and their bites could make him sick or kill him. He suppresses a shudder and thanks her for telling him.
- They follow another trickle of water down through a ravine hedged with gorse, and across a sandy hollow, where Storm pauses to lap from the stream. She tells Gray Wing prey's good around here, with plenty of mice and voles. Gray Wing adds that there are squirrels too, remembering his hunt with Clear Sky and Jagged Peak, that live in the beech trees farther on. Storm looks up, glittering drops of water spinning from her whiskers. She meows in a surprised voice he really does know his way around. Gray Wing explains that his littermate lives down here and invites her to come meet him.
- This time Gray Wing takes the lead as he follows the path that leads to Clear Sky's new home. Four days had passed since he had hunted the squirrel with Clear Sky and Jagged Peak and he was looking forward to seeing his brothers again. He soon picks up Clear Sky and Jagged Peak's scents mingled with another and a stronger scent of a cat he didn't recognise. Rounding a bramble thicket he found himself facing a large brown tom with yellow eyes. He asks the tom who he is, halting abruptly and bracing himself for an attack. The tom growls at Gray Wing, asking who is he and says it's Clear Sky's place. He gapes with astonishment, assuming it was a rogue who lives in the forest but hearing the tom mention Clear Sky left him completely confused.
- Gray Wing responds Clear Sky is his brother and he and Storm are on their way to visit him, asking if it's a problem. The rogue's sharp yellow eyes narrow and he says its only if he makes it one, as Clear Sky doesn't like strange cats wandering around so close to his camp. Gray Wing wonders if camp is what rogues call the place where they live and he snaps, growing exasperated that he's not a strange cat, he's Clear Sky's brother. The tom narrows his eyes further and says just in case Gray Wing's lying, he'll take him to Clear Sky himself and warns him to not even think of trying anything.
- Beckoning with his tail, he leads the way down a narrow track between ferns. Gray Wing exchanges a glance with Storm. She asks what's that all about and he replies he has no idea. They follow the brown tom, Storm hard on Gray Wing's paws until they emerge from the ferns into the sheltered hollow where his littermate calls home. Clear Sky was stretched out in the shade of some brambles grooming himself while Falling Feather sits beside the pool with Quick Water and the small yellow tabby she-cat Gray Wing had seen before. Remembering how aggressive the tabby had been, it was a shock to see her sitting peacefully beside his friends.
- The brown tom stalks across the clearing and stands in front of Clear Sky. He announces he's found these two on their way here and flicks his tail at Gray Wing and Storm, adding that the tom says he's Clear Sky's brother. Clear Sky leaps to his paws and confirms he is and greets Gray Wing. The tom looks disconcerted as Gray Wing and Storm pad over to Clear Sky. Clear Sky says as Gray Wing touches noses with him that the tom is Fox, and he'd decided to join them. Falling Feather calls from where she was sitting by the pool that the yellow tabby is Petal, Fox's sister, who's decided to come to stay with them as well. Her eyes shine as she gazes at Fox and asks if it's great. Shock strikes Gray Wing like a flash of lightning and faces Clear Sky in bewilderment, asking if it's true rogues live among them.
- Clear Sky lets out a mrrow of amusement and reminds Gray Wing they're rogues too, then asks why he's come to see him. Gray Wing responds he's brought Storm to meet him, and he gestures to the silver she-cat forward with his tail, adding that she lives around here. Clear Sky's voice began a welcome by being cheerful, then trails off as he fixes his gaze on Storm. She seems lost for words and Gray Wing hopes she hasn't been intimidated by Fox's hostility. Clear Sky asks where she lives, and Storm blinks rapidly as she stutters that it's nowhere special. Gray Wing puts in since Storm seems to be having trouble explaining herself that she's not a kittypet but she goes to Twolegplace sometimes. Neither Storm nor Clear Sky seems to hear him, Clear Sky's blue gaze meeting Storm's green; Gray Wing had never seen so much intensity. Storm goes on, waving her tail around the hollow that it's very nice in here and Clear Sky answers that his cats like it. Gray Wing wonders if they're both completely flea-brained. For a moment longer they gaze at each other, their neck fur slightly fluffed up and tail-tips twitching side to side. Gray Wing wouldn't have been surprised if they had sprung at each other.
- He tries to speak, but Storm brusquely interrupts she has to go. Clear Sky looks dismayed and asks why and she shakes her head in confusion, mewing, at last, she needs to hunt. He invites her to come back soon, though he still is clearly disappointed. Storm says she will as she turns and heads out of the clearing. Gray Wing glances at Clear Sky, then turns out and follows her, wondering what just happened as he bounds forward to catch up with Storm. He asks if she's okay and Storm turns to look at him, her green gaze distracted before responding she's fine. She heads towards the river and pads alongside it, in the direction of the four great oaks. Gray Wing realises their playful friendliness has faded like morning mist. He asks as they pause on the edge of the trees if they should meet again tomorrow and Storm sighs, and says she doesn't know and she'll see him around. Without waiting for a reply, she turns and plunges into the depths of the forest, leaving Gray Wing to stare after her.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 246
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 251
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 254
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 247
- ↑ Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 248
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 249
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 253
|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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