|"Every cat needs to choose their own destiny - and mine is with Storm, the way Turtle Tail's is in the Twolegplace."|
|— Gray Wing about Turtle Tail becoming a kittypet in The Sun Trail, page 264|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter twenty one of The Sun Trail. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 21 (of 26)
- Page Numbers: 257-265
- Gray Wing can't understand how one day can make such a difference. The four great oaks stand the same as they always had but the leaves were limp and still and there is not a breath of wind. The forest is gloomy, with no sun breaking through the clouds. Worst of all, there's no sign of Storm. Hope springs up in him as he hears a rustle and sees fronds of fern shaking as a cat approached the bottom of the hollow. But his tail droops in disappointment as Turtle Tail emerges into the open. She bounds towards him and greets him, then asks if he wants to join her hunting. Gray Wing shakes his head, saying he's waiting for Storm. She asks if he's doing it again, and he says he is, slightly annoyed at the hint of disapproval in Turtle Tail's voice. Then as all his hopes and doubts surge through him, he knows that he had to confide in some cat. He confesses that he really likes Storm and wants her to come and live in the hollow with them.
- Turtle Tail's eyes widen and Gray Wing is surprised to see hints of sadness in their green depths. She mews that she'll be off and spins around, racing away swiftly in the direction of the Twolegplace. Gray Wing thinks about how she said she was hunting, then begins to search for Storm. At one point he picks up her scent, then realizes its stale, probably from when he met her the day before. A voice says his name and it isn't the voice Gray Wing has been longing to hear - he turns and spots Tall Shadow beckoning to him from halfway up the slope. She invites him to walk with her, saying she needs to talk to him.
- Tall Shadow leads the way through the forest and along the edge of the more. She asks him to tell her more about the new cats living with Clear Sky and Moon Shadow and Gray Wing shrugs, peering through the trees in case Storm appears, then replies he told her all he knows and they seem to have settled in well, as far as he could see. She nods thoughtfully and asks if he thinks they should invite Gorse and Wind to move into the hollow with them. He's startled because he thinks that Tall Shadow was the last cat who would want to do it; she hadn't been particularly welcoming when he brought the two rogues for a visit. He begins hesitantly that it isn't natural for them - in the mountains there were no other cats, so it'd be hard for them to invite strangers in.
- Tall Shadow agrees with Gray Wing and then says that they could maybe consider it, as it'd be helpful to hunt together and they'd all be stronger if dogs or foxes attacked. She sighs and adds that she wishes Shaded Moss was with them and he'd know what to do. Gray Wing tells her to not be too sure, as this would be just as strange to him. He thinks for a few heartbeats then adds that they should do what Stoneteller said and trust their instincts above all else. Voice suddenly sharper, Tall Shadow meows that her instinct says they shouldn't be too hasty about letting other cats live with them. Gray Wing responds it's fine with him but he can't help asking himself what it means for Storm.
- For the next few days, Gray Wing forces himself to not spend all his time looking for Storm. Instead, he keeps himself busy with hunting and helping to improve the nests in the hollow. He'd gone as far as the river searching for moss when he hears a friendly voice hailing him. Its Gorse, with Wind behind him. They bound up to join Gray Wing at the water's edge, both of them touching noses with him. He meows that it's good to see them and asks how the prey is running. Wind replies that they've been doing fine but the hare they caught was the best catch they've made in moons. With a friendly flick of her tail, she tells him it was fun visiting his camp and asks to come and see him again, offering to show him the best places for prey. Gray Wing responds awkwardly that they're kind of busy and Gorse nods, saying it's no problem.
- He's relieved the two rogues weren't offended; he liked them and would have invited them but he remembers his recent conversation with Tall Shadow, understanding her wariness of getting so close to strangers. He wonders about Storm again, but Storm didn't feel like a stranger to him. Anxiety strikes Gray Wing as the silver she-cat came back into his mind. He thinks that maybe he should be worried about not seeing Storm because she might be in trouble.
- Saying goodbye to Gorse and Wind, Gray Wing abandons the moss he'd been collecting and heads across the moor toward the forest. Quickening his pace, he resolves to go right into the heart of the Twolegplace if he had to. But before he reaches the edge of the trees he halts in surprise when he sees the silver tabby emerge from the undergrowth. He calls out Storm's name and she jumps, startled, and for a heartbeat, Gray Wing wonders if she even wanted to see him. But as he bounds up to her he sees her green eyes are warm with welcome. She mews a hello and asks him how are things and Gray Wing replies he's fine. He wants to ask where she had been but he's worried about offending her. He decides she's here now and that's all that matters.
- Side by side, the two cats wander down to the river and crouch on the edge, gazing down into the water. Tiny fish were slipping in and out fo the stones, their skin glinting in the sunlight. Gray Wing remarks one of his friends can catch fish and Storm's eyes widen, saying that it's amazing. Silence falls again. He feels slightly awkward; there were so many things he wanted to say to Storm, but somehow he couldn't find the words. He meows, at last, he wishes he could invite her into the hollow but Tall Shadow is being a bit edgy about strangers and suggests meeting somewhere else. Storm responds with no suggestions, just a sure.
- Gray Wing leans to brush muzzles with her, but she turns her head away and rose to her paws. She mews that she'll see him soon cheerfully and bounds off toward the trees. Looking after her, he feels hot with embarassment and thinks about how somehow he said the wrong thing and how he doesn't understand her at all. He collects his moss and heads back to the hollow. When he reaches it and drops his bundle beside the new nests, where Hawk Swoop and Cloud Spots were working busily, he spots Turtle Tail, coming back empty-pawed from the direction of Twolegs. She has the scent of Twolegs all over her. He asserts that she's been visting Bumble again and still off-balance from the odd encounter with Storm, he can't summon up much more patience with Turtle Tail. He asks if she really wants to be with her more than with them.
- Turtle Tail's ears flick up and she lashes her tail. She snaps that he doesn't seem to have time for her anymore, and if perhaps if she had silver fur he'd feel differently. Gray Wing tells Turtle Tail to not be so ridiculous, but inside he knows that she's speaking the truth; he did want to be with Storm more than any other cat. He adds more gently to not get her fur tangled, as Storm's such a terrific cat and he hopes that soon she'll come here to live with them. Turtle Tail gives him a blank stare and in a flat voice mews she's totally happy for both of them, then stalks off with her tail in the air.
- Totally bewildered, Gray Wing stares after her. Shattered Ice, who is standing close by, let out an exaggerated sigh. He mutters Gray Wing has the sense of a rabbit sometimes and he tells Shattered Ice he has no idea what he means, and he just rolls his eyes. Gray Wing shakes his head in confusion and went to help Cloud Spots and Hawk Swoop with the new nests. They were finished by nightfall and Gray Wing had his best sleep in a long time, waking vigorous and refreshed. As he stood beside the nest shaking scraps of moss from his pelt, Turtle Tail pads up to him.
- She asks him to come with her, just the two of them, and Gray Wing decides not to say anything about her odd behavior the day before and accepts, asking if she wants to hunt. Turtle Tail shakes her head, saying it's just to talk somewhere that isn't the hollow. She leads the way over the moor where the waterfall thunders down the gorge. Crouching beside it, she didn't speak, just looks down at the rushing river as it surges between the rocks. Gray Wing sits beside her, beginning to feel impatient. Turtle Tail begins softly about the long, hard journey they took to get here and how they wondered if they'd ever reach the end and they have now, but their destinations seem to be very different. Gray Wing starts talking about Clear Sky and the others, but she interrupts saying she's not talking about Clear Sky. Swallowing and taking a deep breath, she meows that she's going to live with Bumble.
- Gray Wing springs to his paws, dismay filling him from his ears to his tail-tip. He exclaims she can't be a kittypet because she's wild. Turtle Tail flicks her tail and answers she'll be a wild kittypet. She doesn't think there's a place for her here anymore and she'll be fine. Rising from her spot, she touches her nose to Gray Wing's ear and asks him to promise her he goes for what he wants. Feeling utterly baffled, Gray Wing nods and promises.
- Still not understanding Turtle Tail's decision, Gray Wing pads by her side until they reach the edge of the Twolegplace. When they could see the huge red dens looming up through the trees, Turtle Tail halts and turns to him. She asks him to let the others know where she's gone, saying she's too embarrassed to make a big scene. He replies that of course he will and Turtle Tail sounds as though as she had to force herself to sound cheerful that she'll visit.
- She brushes her tail down Gray Wing's side, then spins around and races toward the Twoleg dens. He watches her vanish out of his sight and he feels empty, as if something precious had gone out of his life. He thinks as he trudges away things are changing all the time and every cat needs to choose their own destiny - his is with Storm, the way Turtle Tail's is in the Twolegplace. Determination swells inside him as he commits himself to ask Storm to come and live in the hollow and how Tall Shadow will understand if she's his mate.
- For a while, he pads alongside the river, but when he came to the huge rocks he turned to follow the stream as it flowed into the main current. Excitement tingles through his paws as he imagined what it would be like to have Storm beside him, hunting, exploring, resting together in the shelter of their nest. When the time was right, they would even have kits together. A flash of silver in the undergrowth alerts him and he halts as Storm comes into view, a beautiful sheen of sunlight on her silver tabby pelt. She calls to Gray Wing, quickening her pace and says she's looking for him. Her green eyes were troubled as she announced there's something she has to tell him; she's going to live with Clear Sky.
- Shock rips through Gray Wing, as cruel as a fox's claws. He asks why she'd do that and Storm's whiskers twitch. She explains she's seen a lot of him since that first time and Gray Wing cuts her off, suddenly understanding. He meows that's great and Storm draws closer, her sweet scent washing over him. She murmurs she's so sorry and wishes things were different, but takes a pace back and adds that they'll still see each other, considering the forest isn't that big.
- She turns and pads away, her tail waving gracefully. Gray Wing digs his claws into the ground and clamps his jaws shut so as not to utter a word. Storm had made her choice, and it wasn't him. Gray Wing had never felt so alone in his life. He thinks as he tries to make sense of what was happening that he owes his brother - it was because of him Bright Stream died and now he has a second chance to make Clear Sky happy.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 257
- ↑ Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 260
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 258
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 259
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 261
- ↑ Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 262
- ↑ Revealed in The Sun Trail, page 265
|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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