|"Somewhere out there is our new home, just like Stoneteller promised. And we're going to find it!"|
|— Gray Wing's thoughts in The Sun Trail, page 84|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter six of The Sun Trail. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 6 (of 26)
- Page Numbers: 72-91
- The eagle attempting to attack Gray Wing and Jagged Peak finally leaves and Gray Wing declares that it is safe for them to leave the crevice. Jagged Peak shows some worry that eagle may still be there and Gray Wing reassures him that it is gone. When they emerge into the open Jagged Peak lets Gray Wing check him for injuries and it is determined he only has a few scratches. After finding out that Jagged Peak is fine Gray Wing expresses anger over Jagged Peak's decision to leave the cave and go after the others. Jagged Peak, recovered from his earlier fear of the eagle, tells Gray Wing that Quiet Rain had no right to stop him from leaving. Gray Wing tells him that she's his mother and knows what's best for him, causing Jagged Peak to jump to the conclusion that Gray Wing was there to take him back and announces that he would fight him before he let that happen. Gray Wing tells him to calm down and that he wouldn't be taken back. Instead, they were going to find the others. Jagged Peak objects since Gray Wing had wanted to stay, insisting that he would be fine by himself. After a small attempt to point out what had happened with the eagle Gray Wing realizes there is no point in arguing and just tells Jagged Peak that they still had a long way to go and that it would be dangerous. Jagged Peak tells him they'll be okay before bounding off over the boulders.
- Gray Wing follows him more slowly, feeling pain from his neck and a torn paw pad. The sun has set behind the mountain and it is beginning to get dark, so Gray Wing calls to Jagged Peak, telling him they need to find shelter for the night. Jagged Peak tries to argue with him, but Gray Wing insists and finds a sheltered spot between the roots of a tree. He hears Jagged Peak's belly growl and asks if he wants to hunt, but Jagged Peak says he will be fine until morning. As they settle down Jagged Peak tells Gray Wing he is glad Gray Wing is there.
- Gray Wing wakes up the next morning to see a gray sky with many clouds and a chance of more snow. Jagged Peak is still asleep, curled up in a small ball. Gray Wing thinks how brave Jagged Peak must be to leave the cave by himself and to attack the eagle. He decides that if Jagged Peak is that determined to find their new home he would make sure he got there. Jagged Peak stirs soon after and, yawning, asks if their mother had gone out hunting. Gray Wing reminds him that they were no longer in the cave, then tells Jagged Peak to wake up while he goes hunting. Gray Wing soon finds a mouse and kills it, returning to the hollow where they had slept. Jagged Peak is sitting on a tree root and he is excited when he sees the mouse. Gray Wing tells him he can have all of it since he needs to keep his strength up. Jagged Peak eats all of it quickly, thanking Gray Wing. Once he's done he says that today will be great and the others will be surprised when they catch up to them. Gray Wing agrees with him while looking at the surroundings and trying to determine the best route for them to take.
- As the gray mountain cat analyses, he notices the clouds were thick, the air smelled of snow and that there was no obvious track. Gray Wing decides that it is best for them to make straight for the ledge. He realizes after they set out that the ground wasn’t clear as he hoped and they had to climb over boulders to get through.
- They reach a wide stream chattering over the rocks. The edges were frozen, but a clear channel was in the middle. Gray Wing jumps over it, and advises Jagged Peak to jump as far as he can, and that he’d be there to grab him. He takes a few steps back before bounding up the bank and launching himself, letting out a squeal as he jumps. Gray Wing hears the ice starting to crack and grabs Jagged Peak by his scruff. Gray Wing’s little brother asks if that was a good leap, and he assures Jagged Peak that it was.
- Farther on, the ground began rising steeply and they halt at a sheer rock wall that stretched as far as the two cats could see. After some studying, Gray Wing realized it isn’t as sheer as he thought -- there were several thin ledges and crevices. He mews that he thinks they can climb it but Jagged Peak is averse to the idea, and he wouldn’t be climbing it. Gray Wing says that they’re going home if he wouldn’t, and after a moment of hesitation, Jagged Peak leaps onto the rock wall. He showers grit and pieces of grass over Gray Wing’s face as he climbs, but at last Jagged Peak reaches the top. Gray Wing began to climb, digging his claws into the cracks and scrabbling strongly with his hind legs, and despite the pain of his broken paw pad and a moment where he slips, he makes it up.
- Gray Wing could see a clear zigzagging track in the direction of the ledge they were making for. As he sets off at a brisk pace, he assumes his brother is following him until he hears Jagged Peak calling his name out from a distance while he plods to catch up to the older tom. Gray Wing comments they have no time to dawdle and Jagged Peak protests that he’s not dawdling and his legs were shorter than his brother’s. Gray Wing realised Jagged Peak was correct -- not only were the gray tabby’s legs were shorter, but his muscles were soft from living all of his life in the cave. Picturing the cats in Shaded Moss’ group getting farther and farther, Gray Wing agrees to slow down and feels impatience rise inside as he tries to match Jagged Peak’s pace. When they reached a large boulder, Gray Wing unceremoniously grabs Jagged Peak by the scruff and hauls him over the rock, and he complains about how he could’ve gotten over on his own. Gray Wing bites back a retort saying Jagged Peak got them into this mess.
- Jagged Peak stalks up the track with his tail high in the air. As Gray Wing follows, he notices that the first few snowflakes were falling, and he speeds up to Jagged Peak. He suggests that they take shelter under a boulder. It was only a few tail-lengths away, but when they finally got to it, it was snowing heavily and the wind blustered around them, making Gray Wing fear that the wind could blow away his lighter brother. He shoves Jagged Peak Gray Wing comments they have no time to dawdle, but Jagged Peak protests he isn’t, and Gray Wing’s legs are shorter than his. The dark gray tom realises his brother is right -- not only did he have shorter legs, but his muscles were softer from living in the cave for all his life. While sighing, the dark gray tom agrees to slow down as he pictures Shaded Moss’ group getting farther and farther. Impatience is rising in Gray Wing as he tries matching his brother’s pace and when they reach a large rock blocking their path, he unceremoniously grabs Jagged Peak by the scruff and hauls him over. He twitches his whiskers and complains as Gray Wing sets him down about how he could do it by himself, to which his brother has to bite back a retort of how if it wasn’t for Jagged Peak, they wouldn’t be in this mess.
- Jagged Peak stalks up the track, his tail high, and as Gray Wing follows, he notices the first flakes of snow falling. He quickens his pace until he catches up to his brother, and meowed that they must find shelter and to try a nearby rock. The boulder was only a few tail-lengths away, but when they got there, it was snowing heavily and the wind blustered around them, making Gray Wing fear it would blow away his younger brother. He shoves Jagged Peak into the narrow gap between the boulder and mountainside, then scrambles in tail first. Gazing out of the cleft, Gray Wing sees a screen of driving snow that blotted out everything. Jagged Peak peers over his senior’s shoulder and mutters fearfully that they’re never going to find the others, and they might even freeze to death. Gray Wing’s irritation vanishes as he assures him that they won’t and the traveling cats won’t get too far in this blizzard. The gray tabby curls up and closes his eyes and his snores afterwards tell Gray Wing that Jagged Peak was asleep. The dark gray tom dozes off as well, dreaming that he was pursuing the others over endless mountains, occasionally picking up a scent but never managing to find them.
- He wakes up when Jagged Peak prods his side, and the young mountain cat exclaims the snow had stopped. Gray Wing blinks in the dazzling light; the sky's clear and the sun is shining on the fresh, untouched expanse of snow. His eyes widen in dismay when he realised the blizzard had transformed the landscape, covering the ledge and track they were going for. Gray Wing was still working out their route when Jagged Peak enthusiastically bounds into the snow, which gives way and leaves him floundering in a drift, letting out alarmed squeaks. Cautiously the dark gray tom finds firm ground under the white covering and grabs his brother by the scruff, and he warns the gray tabby not to go dashing off again as he sets the young tom beside himself. Jagged Peak vigorously shakes his fur, spattering melted snow onto Gray Wing, who shivers. He advises the kit to watch where he puts his paws, and if he looks carefully, he can see the shapes of the rocks under the snow. If he couldn’t see anything, test the ground with one paw as deep as he could before putting his whole weight on it to which Jagged Peak meows that he understands.
- The next stage was slow and exhausting -- Gray Wing thought he could remember the ledge’s location and he leads the way to it, testing each pawstep and struggling to find a safe route around the boulders boulders that laid in their path. The boulders thin out eventually and a flat stretch of snow lays ahead. Testing the first few steps, Gray Wing discovers flat earth and thinks that at last, he has found something that’s easy to run across. He launches himself onto the expanse and relishes the chance to stretch his muscles and feel wind rush through his pelt. He calls behind for Jagged Peak to keep up before the snow gives way under his paws and he screeches as he plunges into icy water. Paddling furiously and keeping his head above water, he tries climbing out, but the snow around him was deep, slushy and broke when he tried to put his weight on it. He had fallen into a stream, which was carrying him down the mountainside as he fought to stay afloat. The mountain tom looks around for Jagged Peak, who was running along the bank, panic in his eyes.
- He wails about what he could do, and Gray Wing looks around. His legs are weak and the bitter claws of the cold were threatening to grip him. Farther down he sees a branch sticking out of the snow and guesses it had been carried there when the stream was in flood. He calls for Jagged Peak to push an end of the branch to him, and he bounds ahead, struggling to dig the branch out. Gray Wing waits as the stream carried him down toward it, unable to feel his legs from the cold and his soaked pelt dragging at him. Jagged Peak finally frees the branch, and his brother asks the gray tabby to push the branch toward the stream, but keep it firmly anchored. Slowly the young tom drags the branch over to the stream until it stuck out and crouches down the other end, using his whole weight to hold it still, his claws firmly digging into the branch. Gray Wing feels a stab of terror as the surge carries him to the branch and almost drags him past it. Forcing his aching legs to move, he stretched to grab the branch with his teeth. Jagged Peak backs away from the stream, determinedly tugging at the branch and in the midst of his fear Gray Wing feels a flash of admiration for his brother’s strength and courage. Jagged Peak goes on struggling, pulling the other tom out of the slush, and he paddled desperately until he was safely on firm ground.
- Once Gray Wing was safe, he collapses, drenched and freezing and for a moment he couldn’t move. Through a fog of fatigue, he feels his brother curling himself around the dark gray tom and licking him with strong tongue-strokes, like how Quiet Rain had done when they were kits. Gray Wing relaxes and feels the rough, comforting tongue of his gray tabby brother until his fur dries and warmth creeps through his body. At last, he feels revived enough to sit up, and Jagged Peak says he thought he was going to die. Gray Wing responds he was fine, thanks to his brother, and he feels embarrassment crawl through his pelt at the thought he had to be rescued. Not wanting to be stuck in the snowbound stream again, the tom heads upwards, cautiously testing the snow each pawstep. From behind, he hears the scared voice of Jagged Peak, and he turns to see an eagle lazily hovering overhead, with no boulders to hide on the snowy slope. The eagle doesn't seem to have spotted them yet, but it wouldn’t be long before the piercing gaze would pick the two cats out.
- Gray Wing gets an idea to dig scoops in the snow and bury themselves as the eagle had flown higher around the mountain, skimming the surface as it cast for prey with its beady sight. Knowing that there would only be heartbeats to hide, the tom furiously digs into the snow and shoves his brother in. Jagged Peak protests that he will suffocate, but the older cat says that they won’t, and orders him to shut up and keep still. With no time to dig a hole himself, Gray Wing crouches down and burrows into the drift until he felt fully covered. Claws of cold were piercing his pelt, and he had to clench his teeth to stop them from chattering. His ears were muffled with snow, but Gray Wing sees the eagle’s shadow swoop over them. The shadow slides away over the snow until it vanishes. The gray tom waits as long as he could bear before he burst out. He scans the sky and sighs in relief when he sees the eagle is gone and while still checking for movement above his head, he scrapes away snow from where he buried Jagged Peak, who scrambles out shaking clots of snow from his pelt and asks if the eagle is gone. Gray Wing replies that for now it is, and they should find a way to warm themselves and find a better place, just in case the eagle returns.
- The numb-legged cats stagger up the slope, Gray Wing’s mind on finding a hiding place and when he pauses, he realises they climbed much higher than the ledge they were heading towards, and the jagged rocks of the ridge were only a few tail-lengths away. The tom apologises to Jagged Peak, saying they went too far, but his eyes were bright with excitement. He meows that they might just continue going on and he has never been this high. Gray Wing faintly purrs, understanding his brother’s excitement, and agrees that they’ll continue on. Wind buffeting their fur, Jagged Peak and Gray Wing haul themselves over sheer rock and onto a tiny pinnacle, barely big enough for the two of them. The younger cat gazes wide-eyed at the summits that rolled away at all sides and he comments that he never knew there were so many mountains -- or even how big the world was. He asks if they can see the waterfall from here, but Gray Wing says they can’t, and they’ve came too far. Turning towards the sunrise, the gray cat feels a tingle of excitement in his fur and thinks that somewhere out there is their new home, and they’re going to find it.
- Suddenly Jagged Peak squeals, startling his brother so much he nearly loses his balance. Gray Wing demands what it was, fearing it was another eagle but his little brother says it’s the other traveling cats. He squints and sees tiny shapes in the valley, a long way ahead. Jagged Peak was bouncing up and down, urging Gray Wing to go. His brother tells Jagged Peak that they have to plan their route carefully and to calm down before he falls. The path was too windy and exposed, so they needed to head down, but simaltenously foward to catch up. Side by side, the two cats study the terrain and to Gray Wing’s relief, there was cover in the direction they needed to go and Jagged Peak suggests they go to the fallen tree as he points with his tail to a tangle of dead branches poking out of the snow.
- Gray Wing, impressed by the young cat who had such a good idea for the best route, with cover from birds agrees, saying that he should take the lead when they go down the route. Jagged Peak teases he will let Gray Wing take the lead, but only if he doesn’t fall in hidden streams. This time they made better progress, hopping over boulders and treading carefully where the snow was hiding slopes of loose scree. It wasn’t very far when Jagged Peak halts and says he smells prey, surprising Gray Wing, who was fairly sure his brother was wrong, but he picks up a faint scent trail and compliments how good Jagged Peak’s tracking is. Gray Wing admires his brother as he instinctively drops into the correct pose, and his light steps as he followed the scent trail. He watches Jagged Peak creeping closer to a stone pile before a mountain shrew shoots out; the kit pounces and pierces the shrew, then exclaims he caught it. He took a single bite then pushed it to Gray Wing, who protests that he caught it, so he eats it. Jagged Peak shakes his head, saying they share. Gray Wing digs into the shrew, then swipes his tongue around his jaws to catch the last of the juices. He thanks Jagged Peak, and they continue on.
- The next stretch was slithering down a path of boulders. Gray Wing was thankful when a narrow ledge led them to where they wanted to go, and as he draws in a breath he realises a familiar scent was bathing his muzzle, which Jagged Peak recognises as the others, sounding thrilled like if he had already found their friends. Although his paws were tingling, Gray Wing warns him not to get too excited, as there was still a good way to go. The setting sun casts long shadows ahead as it sank behind the mountaintops, and Gray Wing advises they stop and find shelter. Jagged Peak objects and says he wants to keep going and they might not be able to see, but they could follow the scent trails. He closes his eyes and pads along the ledge with his nose firmly pressed to the snow. Gray Wing darts to the other side, ready to catch the kit in case he fell off, but he just walked confidently, his tail high. Jagged Peak opens his eyes again, and Gray Wing gives into his desire to find Shaded Moss’ group and allows his brother to lead him, and he nods eagerly.
- The night was cloudy, and although the moon was nearly full it shone fitfully, and there were times where Gray Wing can’t see his own whiskers. Jagged Peak slowly and carefully follows along the ledge, with absolute certainty of where the trail was leading him. His brother follows until he bumps into the kit, and he asks what’s the matter. Jagged Peak replies that he isn’t sure. In the dim light, Gray Wing could barely see the gray tabby casting around as if he lost the scent before he straightens and states where the trail veers off, and the older cat hesitates whether they should wait for daylight or not, but Gray Wing knew Jagged Peak would argue. The young tom leads a short distance down the mountain before doubling back and with a hiss of annoyance as his injured pad hits a sharp stone, Gray Wing asks about what’s going on and that they would be easier if they went straight along the ledge. As the stones give way underneath his paws, Jagged Peak responds he doesn’t know. He slides down, ending up on the ledge again, and says that this is the way the others went. Gray Wing detects the scents as well, although not with the precision of his brother, and as he reaches the young kit’s side, he looks back, puzzled. At that moment a ray of moonlight pierces the covering clouds, revealing a gap behind them where the path had slipped away. Feeling his legs shake with the thought of what would happen if Jagged Peak didn’t notice, Gray Wing exclaims that if it wasn’t for his excellent tracking skills, they would've fallen. His brother’s eyes shine with pride and he followed the trail even more confidently but soon his steps began faltering and Gray Wing’s own legs arched because of his sore pad acting up again, and he guessed his brother was exhausted. The dark gray tom meows that they’ve done enough, they need to rest now, and they’ll make more progress tomorrow.
- Jagged Peak opens his jaws to argue before sighing and confesses he is pretty tired; Together they curl up at the side of the path, beneath an overhanging rock. The kit fell asleep almost at once and his whiskers twitch as if he was still following the scent trail in his dreams. Gray Wing dreams he was back in the cave, with sheltering walls and the roof lost in shadows. The murmurs of the others were all around him; Shaded Moss meows that they should be moving off again; Clear Sky objects, saying they should hunt because his belly thinks his throat’s been clawed out; Turtle Tail adds they should wake Moon Shadow up first, and more voices join the debate. Gray Wing wonders why all the cats he heard had left to follow the sun trail and opens his eyes to see the sun beginning to rise above the mountaintops, with wisps of cloud scatter across a pale blue sky. He yawned and stretched his stiff legs, daunted by the thought of another day plodding through the snow.
- Then he realizes that he could still hear voices from his dream; the mewing of several cats reaches his ears, and then Clear Sky’s voice, raised clearly, telling Shaded Moss that it should be easier to travel today. Gray Wing leaps to his paws, forgetting his weariness, and prods his little brother in the ribs, saying the others are here. Jagged Peak stares at him for a moment, his blue eyes confused by sleep, then he bounces up to stand beside his brother. The kit asks what were they waiting for and with Gray Wing in the lead they race along the ledge and around a corner, their paws skidding on the hard snow. Jagged Peak announces excitedly he’s found their scent, and at the same moment the dark gray tom spot the traveling cats a short way down the slope, milling around a hollow tree trunk. The first rays of the sun were just reaching them and more cats emerge from inside, arching their backs for a good long stretch. Bright Stream looked up and yowls that she could see Gray Wing and Jagged Peak, and the rest follow her gaze before bounding up to the new cats. Turtle Tail was one of the first, and she was glad to see Gray Wing. Clear Sky says he couldn’t believe it, joy in his eyes as every cat crowds around the two. Tall Shadow adds that they did well coming all the way by themselves, and Shaded Moss asks what they were doing there. The first astonished meows of welcome die and the dark gray tom could see some cats exchanging flickering glances of anxiety. Bright Stream asks if all is well in the cave, and Clear Sky asks if Quiet Rain is okay.
- Gray Wing reassures everyone that every cat is fine and Jagged Peak steps forward, puffing out his chest as he announces that he came to find Clear Sky, and how he voted to leave, then Gray Wing came after him. The pale gray tom meows that he isn’t surprised, that he took a huge risk, and the little kit was very lucky that Gray Wing found him. Jagged Peak admits he knew, then lets out a gleeful mrrow and adds he had to rescue his older brother, too. He says it’s true, before turning to Clear Sky and asking how are the traveling cats, who replies that they’re fine, the blizzard slowed them down, but they’re sure they’re heading in the right direction. Gray Wing reports he climbed right up to the top, gesturing with his tail, and says he could see land beyond the mountains. It was still a long way off, but Clear Sky could see it when they cross the next ridge. The dark gray tom’s littermate exclaims that was great, his eyes gleaming. Shaded Moss meows they need to get moving as soon as they can, glancing around and gathering the rest of the cats around him with a tail wave. Moon Shadow puts in that just as soon as they eat they can get going, and as he spoke, Gray Wing spots Quick Water and Jackdaw's Cry toiling up the slope, dragging a snow hare between them. Shaded Moss praises them for the good catch as they reach the group and let their prey drop, blinking in surprise as they see Gray Wing and Jagged Peak. All of the cats gather around to share the prey; Turtle Tail sat beside Gray Wing, pressing herself close to him. She murmurs she’s glad he changed his mind, and he looked around at the other cats, sensing their excitement, and he mews he’s glad as well.
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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