|"If a pair of foxes had taken over their herb land, before long there would be cubs- and so many foxes that they would never be able to gather herbs there again."|
|— Tigerheart on the fox problem in Tigerheart's Shadow, page 157|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter fifteen of Tigerheart's Shadow. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 15 (of 35)
- Page Numbers: 150-157
- Tigerheart follows Fierce, Cinnamon, Cobweb, and Ant. He fears losing them as they dodge towering dens and Thunderpaths. The city's howl is even louder, with Twolegs swarming everywhere. Monsters are barking and shrieking, and the brown tom hurries after Cobweb. He keeps his ears flat as the group ducks beneath a sleeping monster, then waits, before darting through a flood of monsters that came to a halt. Tigerheart wonders how the guardian cats can remember the route, because the smells and noises overwhelmed him already. He prays not to lose them, as he's disoriented by everything around him.
- His thoughts alarm him, before focusing on Cobweb's tail, determined. Fierce has slowed, and glances up at the sky, showing between the Twoleg dens. Tigerheart feels as though he is looking up from the bottom of a canyon, and questions if they're nearly there. He mentions that it seems like a dangerous journey to the herb patch. Fierce tells him at the end of the alley, the nests disappear. She says that it'd only be monsters and Thunderpaths, and Tigerheart wonders why the she-cat sounds so casual. He asks if it'll be dangerous, but Ant reassures the tabby tom, telling him that they know a safe route.
- Tigerheart glances at the small tom, skeptical, wondering if any route was safe. The group reaches the end of the alley, and ahead, a maze of Thunderpaths stretch. Monsters race down them, and the air is foul with their stench. Tigerheart is surprised when he sees a Thunderpath that arches over the others. The Thunderpath's legs plunge into the earth. Cinnamon points her muzzle to a green slope, that's beneath the huge Thunderpath, and tells Tigerheart that it was where the herbs were. He stares at the green patch, and asks how they could reach that.
- Fierce hurries along the side of a Thunderpath, while monsters whip past, tugging at Tigerheart's pelt. His ears tremble from their roaring, and is relieved when Fierce heads for a ditch. It has a gap beneath the ditch, and he realizes its a tunnel. The tortoiseshell she-cat heads into the hole, Cobweb, Ant, and Cinnamon following her. Excited now, Tigerheart squeezes into the darkness after his companions. The hole is small, no bigger then a badger run. The rounded walls echo with the sound of splashing water as they move forward. He wrinkles his nose as his paws feel slimy stone below him, along with the stench of ditch water. He is at least glad that they wouldn't have to cross the Thunderpath, because this was safer. Fierce leads them from one tunnel, to another, until they emerge on a green slope beneath the tall Thunderpath. Tigerheart looks up nervously at the stone path that arches over their heads; one wide leg was planted at the slope's top. Low bushes and grass grow against it, and the slope is dotted with scrubby plants, their leaves dusty from the Thunderpath. He asks if they taste bad, but Fierce informs Tigerheart the herbs are washed off before use.
- Cobweb hurries for the stone leg, and starts sniffing at one plant. He declares the willow herb is well, and Ant weaves around a dark green bush, announcing that the feverfew is ready for harvesting. Fierce glances around warily, mentioning the foxes, and Tigerheart tastes the air. He tries to catch a smell of the foxes amidst the monster stench, and when he does, the tom notices that it was fresh. He warns Fierce to stay together, and the tortoiseshell signals for Cobweb and Ant. She suggests they handle the fox problem first, before gathering the herbs, but Cobweb protests anxiously. He says it's already night-chill, and if they wait til ice-chill, the plants will die.
- Tigerheart guesses ice-chill is leaf-bare, and night-chill has to be leaf-fall. Fierce glances up the slope, responding simply by saying the frost doesn't arrive for another half moon. The smoky gray tom argues back, telling the tortoiseshell they'll have to wait for warmingtime until gathering herbs if they don't now. Tigerheart, who is listening, is confused by the choice of words the guardian cats use. Despite this, he knows they face the same problems as Clan cats, trying to remember if Puddleshine requested a herb-gathering patrol be sent out before his departure. He suggests checking the entire slope, telling his companions he desires finding the fox den, since he isn't sure the residing creature is a female or a male.
- Tigerheart knows vixens are harder to drive off, especially if they've already made a nest. Fierce dips her head, then leads the patrol through some bushes. The broad-shoulder warrior pricks his ears, detecting fox scent, and is able to determine the red creature as having passed by earlier. He hopes they'll catch it sleeping; Tigerheart whispers to Fierce, leading the way through long grass, following the stench. The scent drifts over the stems, while the Thunderpath overhead heralds a wide shadow over the green patch. The dark-pelted tom shivers in the chilly wind, noticing how Ant and Cobweb bunch together; Cinnamon and Fierce trailing behind.
- A monster blasts past, and Tigerheart has to narrow his eyes against it, scanning for movement. Suddenly, a growl sounds beside the patrol, but he barely manages to turn before it appears, exploding from its cover in a blur of red fur. The force of the rush sends Cobweb and Ant tumbling together, and the scent is one of a dog fox. Thinking swiftly, Tigerheart leaps onto it as it snaps its jaws at Cobweb. The tabby warrior sinks his claws into the fox's fur, pulling it away from the gray guardian cat. Ant is already up, and hisses, swings a blow to the large creature's nose. It lunges, but the brown-and-white tom avoids it just in time, getting another hit off.
- Fierce joins in, leaping onto the red fox's back, biting into its shoulder. Cinnamon snaps at its hind paw, getting a grip in the flesh, causing it to yelp, and shake Fierce off. The dog fox snarls at Cinnamon, but Tigerheart hesitates, noticing the guardian cat's bravery and swiftness, but their flaw: the uncoordinated attacks and hastiness. It appears as though they face it alone, which works in the category of distracting it; this is only angering the fox, and Tigerheart's gaze seeks the red creature's eyes, seeing them smolder with frustration.
- Without warning, it barks with rage, before going for Cobweb, and sinking its teeth into the gray tom's back. The guardian cat shrieks, wail filled with pain and fear. Tigerheart leaps to attack, getting beneath its stomach, yowling orders at Fierce, Ant, and Cinnamon to attack. As the three obey, springing for the target, the big tabby churns his hind claws against the creature's stomach, his companions swarming around him. The male fox drops Cobweb, and the gray tom lays still. This leads Tigerheart to wonder if he's passed, before seeing the guardian cat stir, groaning.
- The fox turns on them, and Tigerheart stands with the guardian cats, Cobweb getting up to join them. The dark tom feels triumph when the creature's gaze flickers with doubt, knowing the fox is now scared. Then, it looks behind the cats, and the fear is replaced with malicious joy; this freezes Tigerheart's blood, and when he turns, the tabby sees a vixen approaching. The fox's teeth is bared, and she growls. He orders for Cobweb to get up, staring at the gray cat, for they need to leave. Despite the earlier win against the dog fox, the guardian cats stand no chance against two foxes, before Fierce flings herself at the male fox. The tortoiseshell flails her paws wildly, which causes the fox to back away, and in that distraction, Ant helps Cobweb up.
- Tigerheart turns, facing the approaching red creatures, Cinnamon at his side. In unison, the cats rear up, one fox leaping, and thrust it backwards, calling for the patrol to run. Ant and Fierce guide their injured denmate away, and Tigerheart commands Cinnamon to go with them. The ginger tabby asks about him; he assures her that he'll follow, and she runs clear. The sleek-furred tom faces the foxes alone, who slide together, snarling menacingly. Fear closes his throat, but wants to give his new friends a chance to get Cobweb to safety, but not even he can fight two fully-grown foxes alone. He backs away as the pair advances, blood roaring in his ears, and he bushes up his pelt.
- When he glances down the slope, spotting Fierce and the others heading into the tunnel, the foxes rush him. Their eyes glitter, full of glee, and Tigerheart lashes out, catching both their muzzles. But the foxes overpower him, their hard, strong bodies forcing the brown tabby backwards. He lands clumsily, and turns, determined to run to safety now, and makes a break for it. Hot breathes sears his tail as he flees, and now the tunnel is only a tree-length away. The others already disappeared inside it, and Tigerheart takes a leap for the entrance, suddenly, teeth catches his tail, ripping his fur.
- Agony sears him like fire, but the sleek-furred cat keeps going, splashing through the water, pelting through darkness. His tail burns with pain; Tigerheart looks back, seeing two pairs of eyes: the foxes. They watch him flee now, and just ahead, the shapes of his guardian cat companions show against the light. Splashing through the slimy water, and finally exiting the tunnel, deaf to the roaring monster, the tabby warrior stares at the guardian cats. He puffs, telling them of the two foxes being mates, which Fierce seems to understand, because soon, there might be cubs, and then the land will be lost to the city cats.
Notes and references
|Tigerheart's Shadow 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 • Chapter 28 • Chapter 29 • Chapter 30 • Chapter 31 • Chapter 32 • Chapter 33 • Chapter 34 • Chapter 35 • Graphic novel|
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