|“You’re six moons old, you should be able to protect yourself. A good Sister could have died looking after you.”|
|— Moonlight to Earth after the skirmish with the rogues in Tree's Roots, page 125|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter three of Tree's Roots. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 3 (of 10)
- Page Numbers: 118-128
- Earth kneels down and sniffs the roots of a pine tree, wrinkling his nose, thinking how much he hated it. He is supposed to be hunting, but he can’t scent any mice or shrews that his teacher, Hawk, had told him to search for. Earth wishes Stream was with him.
- Scanning the landscape, he is surprised to admit that the territory had been a good place for the Sisters. He ignores this and thinks it won’t matter because he won’t be there much longer. Earth gives up hunting and wanders through the trees. Earth notes that since Stream and Haze had died, it seems like the Sisters were always traveling. He will be leaving the group to wander soon, and the only other tom there was is one of Furze’s newborn kits. Earth remembers that the Claw Stars are going to align and send him away in the next few days, and has been watching them with dread ever since, hoping that he wouldn’t have to leave, and remembers Stream again. Thoughts fill Earth’s head of his ancestors possibly becoming angry because of his inability to speak to them.
- He is startled when Hawk appears behind him. She reprimands Earth for not paying attention, and he reproachfully thinks that being with Stream was better than living with the Sisters. He apologizes, and Hawk’s gaze softens as she reminds him gently to stay alert. Earth protests that he’s not ready to begin his wander, but Hawk dismisses this with the twitch of a tail and suggests they go to the long grass to hunt, which makes him feel a bit better.
- When they arrive, Hawk scents the air and tells him that the area is filled with voles and mice. They split trails and she disappears through the grass. Flattening his belly to the ground, Earth sniffs the air, thinking he won’t catch anything. Then the aroma of vole fills his nose, and the pittering of tiny heartbeats. Pushing through the dry tangle of grass, Earth creeps forward, his tail barely touching the ground. Then his ears become erect as he scents rogues. A thin gray tom and a brown tabby she-cat surround around him, and the gray tom hisses at Earth to leave. Earth mumbles that they’re just passing through, but the tom and the brown she-cat prepare to attack. The gray rogue claws his ears and the she-cat lands a stinging blow on his shoulder, and Earth lets out a wail.
- To his immense relief, Hawk emerges from the grass and lunges at the she-cat, knocking her away. While they are grappling with each other, the tom springs at Hawk with a hiss. Panicked, he tries to remember the fighting moves he had learned with Tempest and Snow. Earth’s mind whirls as he stands frozen in fear. The brown tabby she-cat rolls away from underneath Hawk, and Hawk lets out a yowl of pain as she crashes onto the ground below. She screeches at Earth to run, and he obeys. Sprinting away, he realizes she is following behind him in long strides.
- The rogues spit at them to stay out, as there are more of them. As Hawk and Earth slow to a walk, she demands if he is okay. Puffing, he says he is fine, and asks about her injuries, to which Hawk meows that the tabby had sharp claws. Earth apologizes for freezing in the middle of the fight, but Hawk replies that it’s fine, although she is limping. When they arrive back at camp, Moonlight walks over with a bundle of herbs in her jaws, and is shocked at Hawk’s injuries, asking what happened. Earth guiltily answers that while they were hunting, two rogues attacked them, and Hawk had protected him. Moonlight sternly tells him that he should be able to protect himself, adding that a Sister could have died protecting him. Slightly annoyed, Earth apologizes again, and his mother reminds him that he would be starting his wander in a few days, and that he has to learn to take care of himself. Even more irritated, Earth digs his claws into the ground and resists the urge to hiss at her. Moonlight stalks away angrily, and Hawk follows while rubbing chervil onto her hind leg. She argues that Moonlight just wants to protect every cat and doesn't mean to be cruel, but Earth highly doubts this.
- The sun is beginning to rise on the day when Earth will begin his wander. He can hear Ice's whimpers of pain from the other side of the den, his heart twisting. Exiting the den, he worriedly asks Moonlight if his sister is going to be okay, but his mother sighs and tells him that Ice had probably just eaten some bad prey, but if she has more trouble recovering, they might have to take her to a Twopaw for help. Earth shifts his paws nervously, and doubts that's a good idea. Moonlight mews crisply that he has to remember that some early generations of the Sisters had lived with Twopaws, and insists that most of them could be trusted. Then she asks him to fetch some new moss for Ice's nest, and Earth obeys, proceeding toward a stream.
- While he carefully scrapes the moss away in clumps, he remembers that this is his last day with the Sisters. He worries about Ice's condition, uneasy at the thought of leaving her, but persuades himself that Moonlight will take good care of Ice. While his mother was preoccupied with his sister, along with Hawk's injured leg still healing, Earth repeats to himself that he's not ready to go out on his own, and wonders how he will manage without spirits to guide him. Earth tries to meditate, but fails.
- He gives up and decides to bring the moss back to Ice and Moonlight. When he arrives back, his mother thanks him for the fresh bedding, but notices that something's troubling him, and asks him what's wrong. Earth admits once again that he's still not ready to leave. Moonlight argues that he is ready, but he protests by saying he's not a formidable fighter and hasn't seen any spirits yet. He desperately asks if he can stay with the Sisters for at least one more moon. Moonlight refuses, insisting that it's for the good of the group, and tells him a story of a tom who had been allowed to stay a few moons longer with the Sisters. She goes on to say that the icetime that season was more freezing and ruthless that the group had ever faced, adding that many cats died. She finishes the story by saying the tom had ended up becoming an Everkit and decided to live with Twopaws.
- Earth shudders and shakily replies that he doesn't want that to happen to him either, but his mother comforts him, stating that starting his wander is his only choice. But when he becomes more anxious, Moonlight states that Earth is going to be a strong and capable cat like his father. He feels a stab of curiosity as he hears about his mother's former mate, but despondently replies that he doesn't think he'll be that kind of cat. When they both hear another pain-filled mew from the opposite den, Moonlight abruptly ends the conversation by coldly insisting that everything will turn out okay and that she doesn't have time to worry about what kind of cat he's going to be. Earth quietly agrees, but as Moonlight goes to take care of Ice, he bitterly wonders why his mother doesn't love him the same way she loves his sisters. He thinks he will never be the strong and capable cat Moonlight wants him to be.
Notes and references
|Tree's Roots chapters|
|Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10|
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