|"The past is the past. The future is fresh. You must forget all you have known, no matter how much you loved it, and choose paths that will carry you to a new dawn."|
|— Bright Stream to The Early Settlers in A Forest Divided, page 315|
- Follow your hearts. They will lead you home.
- Leaf-bare has fallen once more, threatening all cats with hunger and cold. Meanwhile, the message from the spirit-cats remains the same: in order to survive, they must grow and spread like the Blazing Star. And they must hurry.
- Clear Sky is certain that the only way forward is for all cats to band together again, but few are willing to ally with him—and Gray Wing and Thunder can barely look him in the eyes. Tall Shadow is determined to establish a new camp in the pine forest. River Ripple is content near the water. And Wind Runner has made her own home on the moor. The time has now come for all cats to decide where they will live—and where their allegiances truly lie.
Detailed Plot Summary
- Clear Sky is staring at the number of bodies buried in the hollow of the four trees, coming to the shocking conclusion that the dead outnumber the living. He sees a dark gray she-cat, who welcomes him, saying he came. Clear Sky's heart aches with grief, telling Storm that he did come. He asks why she called him here, and Storm replies that she's tired of waiting. River Ripple, Thunder, Tall Shadow, and Wind Runner join him in this dream. Clear Sky notices that the living stood separately while the dead stood together, and wonders if the spirit cats were the only thing that united them. Storm says that they had told the cats to grow and spread like The Blazing Star, but they haven't yet. Storm queries if fear is holding them back. Clear Sky exclaims never, but doesn't know how more they can spread, adding that they add more cats whenever they can. Another cat tells him that it's not enough, and Clear Sky sees Fluttering Bird, his sister who had died of undernourishment in the mountains. Fluttering Bird tells him that what he's done is not enough. She tells Clear Sky to follow his heart, as it will lead him home. Clear Sky looks around, remembering how they all traveled together, but now they don't share their own prey. She confronts Clear Sky, telling him to follow his heart once more. Clear Sky thinks he understands, promising Fluttering Bird he will draw the cats closer together once more so they can grow strong and spread like the Blazing Star.
- Clear Sky visits Tall Shadow's camp, bringing him a rabbit he had caught on the moor. He sees Jagged Peak playing with his kits, and Gray Wing calls him a great father. Clear Sky looks at Thunder, wondering if he would ever forgive him for sending him away. He thinks that Jagged Peak was a better father than him, and recalls how Gray Wing raised another tom's kits when he couldn't even raise his own. Clear Sky tries to convince Tall Shadow, Gray Wing, and Thunder to join together to grow and spread like the Blazing Star, saying that was what the spirit cats told him. Tall Shadow asks if he's sure, and Clear Sky realizes that they are rejecting his offer. Gray Wing reminds Clear Sky that he thought they should separate into five groups, just as the Blazing Star had five petals that spread into different locations. Clear Sky states that they didn't agree on that, and the spirit cats want them to join together. Tall Shadow comments dryly about another battle between the two of them, and she says she will establish her own camp in the pine forest when the time comes. Gray Wing murmurs that she isn't the only one who wants to leave, telling Clear Sky that not every cat wants to stay on the moor. Clear Sky tries to convince the others to live in the forest with him, but Thunder growls that they can't pretend the borders Clear Sky had made weren't there, as cats had died over them. Clear Sky, disappointed, leaves the moor. Thunder feels guilty about what he said to his father, and follows him, making sure he gets to the forest safely. Thunder apologizes for what he says, but Clear Sky doesn't answer. A badger attacks the pair, severely injuring Clear Sky. Despite protests from his father, Thunder takes Clear Sky back to the moor so Pebble Heart can treat his wound. Tall Shadow is annoyed that Thunder brought him back, pointing out he's already caused enough trouble for one day. Jagged Peak overhears this, and after a long conversation with Thunder, he brings up the fact that there had been a lot of gossip on the moor about moving to another territory. He tells Tall Shadow it is time to decide once and for all, and he looks at Gray Wing, saying they should do what they did last time. Gray Wing nods, saying to cast stones.
- Tall Shadow claws the circles in the ground, asking if they should make one for Wind Runner's group. Gray Wing shakes his head, saying that Wind Runner wouldn't want anyone joining her group. There are four circles - one for the pines, one for the moor, one for River Ripple's territory, and one for Clear Sky's territory. Tall Shadow drops her stone into the circle for the pines, and Jagged Peak does as well. He looks at Holly, and she does the same, stating that their kits will be safer there. Gray Wing picks the pines, and so does Mouse Ear. Dappled Pelt drops her stone into the circle that marks River Ripple's group. Shattered Ice does so as well. Lightning Tail drops his stone into Clear Sky's pile, and Clear Sky is delighted. Thunder realizes he had chosen it so he could be closer to his sister, Acorn Fur. Sparrow Fur chooses Clear Sky's group, and Thunder can see the grief burning in Gray Wing's eyes. Gray Wing tells her to follow her heart. Owl Eyes picks the forest, and Cloud Spots does as well. Pebble Heart is shocked, asking what he will do without Cloud Spots to guide him. Cloud Spots says that he has nothing left to teach him, and Clear Sky needs some cat to take care of his group. The only cat left to choose is Thunder, and he hesitates for a moment, before choosing Clear Sky's group. Clear Sky thanks him, and Thunder says goodbye to Gray Wing. Gray Wing says that he can't leave Tall Shadow, and Pebble Heart needs him, but he doesn't know how he can be separated from his kits. Thunder reminds him that they aren't kits anymore, and he'll still see them. Gray Wing says it will never be the same, and Thunder silently agrees.
- Gray Wing says goodbye to Acorn Fur and Owl Eyes, lying to them that he isn't hurt by their choice. Clear Sky promises his brother that he will look after them. Clear Sky asks if he's sure he doesn't want to come with them, and Gray Wing replies that he's been through so much with Tall Shadow that he can't leave her yet, and Pebble Heart needs him. Cloud Spots says goodbye to Pebble Heart, and Gray Wing feels a flash of jealousy at how fond Pebble Heart is of the black and white tom. Cloud Spots suggests they meet regularly to share what they've learned. As Gray Wing follows the cats who had chosen the pines to their new territory, he scents rogues, and decides to investigate. He hears a tom scold a she-cat, telling her to follow "those cats". He continues, saying he wants her to follow them and he needs to know where they settle. The she-cat asks him why, and the tom, being named Slash, tells her not to be a mouse-brain. He tells the she-cat, Fern, not to betray him. He reminds her that Star Flower had betrayed him, and she was lucky he let her live. He tells Fern that he won't be so soft with her. Gray Wing, bothered by the exchange, goes back to join the traveling group, noticing how Jagged Peak acts like their leader. Tall Shadow is surprised as well, and Holly says it's shocking what a little love can do. Gray Wing wonders if he had been too hard on his younger brother, and realizes it is his turn to cross the Thunderpath. However, he breaks into a coughing fit right in the middle of the road, unable to make it to the other side. Jagged Peak urges him on.
- Clear Sky shows Thunder across his territory, heading for the Twolegplace, explaining he wants to see if he can find some kittypet recruits. Thunder comes across Star Flower, who asks why he's on the forest. Thunder, hostile towards her, asks her how she can show her face. He tries to say "after", but Star Flower cuts him off, finishing his sentence for him - "after you killed my father." Thunder asks if Star Flower cares about anything, and Star Flower replies that she cares enough to forgive him. Thunder growls, saying she was the one to betray them. Star Flower replies that he was the one who helped kill her father. Clear Sky interferes, saying that if she wants to blame anyone for One Eye's death, she should blame him. Star Flower asks if he was the one to take One Eye in, and Clear Sky confirms that it was indeed him. Star Flower asks to join his group, and Thunder freezes. Clear Sky denies her request, saying she can't let her join after what her father had done. Star Flower begs Thunder, stating that since One Eye is gone, she doesn't have any cat to help her survive through leaf-bare. Thunder calls Clear Sky, asking if they should give her a chance. Thunder reminds his father that Fluttering Bird wanted him to unite, reassuring him that the more cats they have, the farther they can spread. Clear Sky twitches his tail, saying he can bring her alone, but he would be the one to explain her to his campmates. Thunder thinks of Lightning Tail's expression when he walks into camp with Star Flower, knowing his friend will think he's gone crazy.
- Gray Wing hunts in the pine forest, to have Pebble Heart come upon him. Pebble Heart asks if he thought he was Slate, and Gray Wing remembers that the she-cat had promised to visit. Suddenly, Gray Wing has a coughing attack once more. Pebble Heart is able to heal him, and promises him some coltsfoot. Slate visits the camp, and she reports that Wind Runner's kits are doing well. Gray Wing suggests they send out a hunting party, and Slate volunteers to join, but Tall Shadow pointedly states that she has her own group to contribute to. Jagged Peak asks what's going on, and Tall Shadow tells him that Gray Wing is organizing patrols. Jagged Peak points out that he had given up leadership, and he can't just take it back. Tall Shadow apologizes, telling Gray Wing he's not as strong as he used to be, and he needs to let stronger cats take charge. She bluntly tells him he's not their leader anymore, and Gray Wing realizes that Tall Shadow thinks he's weak. Burning with fury, he hears Fern at the camp, knowing she's spying on them Gray Wing, desperate to prove to Tall Shadow that he's not weak, chases after her.
- After stalking her quietly, Gray Wing decides to talk to Fern. He asks her if she knows who he is, and reminds her that she had been spying on him for the past half moon. Fern is surprised, not knowing that Gray Wing was one of the forest cats. Gray Wing tells her that Slash is a bully, just like One Eye. Gray Wing tells Fern that she shouldn't let Slash order her around, and Fern says that if she doesn't do what he says, he'll kill her. Fern flinches away from Gray Wing, and he tries to convince her that he won't hurt her. He catches a mouse for her, and introduces himself. Gray Wing asks that Fern do something for him in return. He asks her to persuade Slash that he's wasting his time spying on them. He comes up with ideas - that they are strong, that they are dangerous, and he wouldn't win a fight against them. Fern tips her head, saying that Slash would never believe there were cats he couldn't beat. She says she might be able to distract him. She tells Gray Wing that she would be able to delay Slash's attack, but he would indeed ambush them, saying that her distraction would give them the time they need to prepare for Slash's attack. After Fern leaves Gray Wing, he catches a rabbit. A small kit exclaims that they were hunting that, and his family appears - his half-starved mother and sibling. Gray Wing offers the rabbit to him, but the mother is wary. Gray Wing is able to convince them to eat the rabbit, and the mother introduces herself as Milkweed. She tells him that her tom kit is Thistle, and her she-kit is Clover. She explains that their sister, Bramble, died the other day. Gray Wing suggests they join Clear Sky's group, and Milkweed snorts, asking if he'll kill him just as he killed Misty. Gray Wing explains that Clear Sky had changed, and Milkweed asks him if Clear Sky will hurt them. Gray Wing promises he won't. Milkweed and her kits leave, and Gray Wing falls asleep on the moor.
- Gray Wing finds himself in the cavern of the Tribe of Rushing Water. He calls out for Quiet Rain and Snow Hare, but can't find them. Stoneteller appears. Gray Wing thinks she is the only thing left of the Tribe, and he apologizes for leaving. Stoneteller tells him it's not his fault, and tell him to let go of the past, for the future is the only thing he can change. A shriek jerks Gray Wing awake, and he finds Slate battling with a fox. He comes to her aide, and working side by side, they manage to fend the fox off. Slate realizes that Gray Wing is badly injured, and takes him to Wind Runner's camp, so Reed can treat his wounds. Wind Runner, Gorse Fur, and Gray Wing catch up. Wind Runner asks if Gray Wing misses the moor, and Gray Wing replies that he does. He says he feels he has to stay with Pebble Heart and Tall Shadow, although he thinks that Tall Shadow doesn't need him anymore. Wind Runner comforts him, saying it's just because Tall Shadow wants to make her home feel more like hers. Gray Wing looks around, saying he should get home. Slate convinces him to take a nap before he goes, and he obliges.
- In the forest, Clear Sky brings prey to his camp. He recalls Thunder looking wistfully at Star Flower, thinking that he still cares for her. Clear Sky decides to patrol his borders, and runs into Star Flower, who makes him loose a piece of prey he was tracking. Star Flower teases him, and Clear Sky thinks she is trying to embarrass him on purpose. Star Flower lulls Clear Sky into a deep conversation. She tells him about how her littermates and mother died, and how One Eye refused to speak of them. Clear Sky tells her that every cat holds tragedy in their heart. She tells Clear Sky that they're alike, and Clear Sky states that he hadn't betrayed anyone. Star Flower tells him that she thinks Thunder, Gray Wing, Jagged Peak, and Rainswept Flower would disagree. Star Flower says that she understands Clear Sky, and she would take some things she had done back. Star Flower murmurs that he knows she doesn't trust me, but she will do what she can to show him he can count on her. She tells Clear Sky that if he trusts her, she will never betray him, just as she never betrayed her father. He tells Star Flower to go back to camp, and he thinks that perhaps he was wrong about her. He realizes that there is more to Star Flower than what meets the eye.
- Thunder tries to join a patrol with Clear Sky in order to flatter him, lying that he doesn't know where the markers are. Clear Sky tells him that if he hadn't known that already, he never will. He tells Thunder that every cat needs solitude from time to time, and he's patrolling alone. He leaves, and Thunder thinks that Clear Sky had never wanted solitude before. He orders Lightning Tail to guard the camp so he can follow Clear Sky. Lightning Tail decides to come with him, so Thunder orders Leaf to guard instead. They follow Clear Sky, to see him meeting with Star Flower. Star Flower weaves around Clear Sky, asking him if he took her up on her hunting lesson offer. Clear Sky tells her he doesn't have anything to learn, and Star Flower says they have more in common than he thinks. Star Flower lets her tail slide beneath Clear Sky's chin, and pads around him. She reminds Clear Sky that he was going to give her lessons in leadership, and Clear Sky tells her that before you learn to lead, you must learn to follow. Thunder remembers how he thought Star Flower wanted to be his mate, but she was only spying for One Eye. Star Flower had then said she truly cared for him, but that was after One Eye died. Thunder watches with jealousy as Star Flower invites Clear Sky to enjoy the sun with her. Thunder bounds away, furious. Lightning Tail catches up, and Thunder snarls, saying he should've known that Star Flower didn't feel anything for him. He states that Star Flower is using his father, and Lightning Tail asks what for. Thunder tells him that if she was Clear Sky's mate, she would have power and influence as she was the leader's mate. Thunder orders Lightning Tail to leave, saying he needs to think. Thunder sits down, a deep ache in his heart. He thinks that Star Flower had come back for him, but she cares about one cat, and that cat is Star Flower.
- Back at camp, Thunder gets into an argument with Clear Sky. Clear Sky had been limiting hunting patrols so the cats 'don't hunt out' the forest, and so that cats don't take more than their fair share. This causes outrage within the group, as cats are going hungry when there is a perfectly good forest full of food. Clear Sky scowls at Thunder, saying that maybe he should be the leader. Thunder retorts, saying that on the moor, Tall Shadow and Gray Wing treated him like one. Clear Sky snaps at him, saying the forest is different. They have one leader, and that is Clear Sky. Clear Sky mocks the moor group, saying that no cat knew who was in charge, and whenever there was an argument, cats would gossip and no one made decisions. Clear Sky asks if he's this angry about hunting patrols, and Thunder blurts out that he saw him in the forest with Star Flower. Clear Sky is surprised, reminding him that he told him to stay in camp. Thunder tells his father that he isn't as easy to boss around as Owl Eyes. Thunder asks what he was doing with her, and Clear Sky replies that it is none of his business. Thunder tells him that Star Flower is not trustworthy. He tells Clear Sky that he trusted her father, and tells him to look at where that got him. He explains that he's only warning him because he fell for her lies once, and he doesn't want to see her betray Clear Sky as she had betrayed him. He bluntly states that trusting Star Flower will not end well. Clear Sky says that he knew he hurt her, and Thunder asks if that means he'll stop seeing her. Clear Sky does not respond. He leaves, and Thunder jumps after him, only to see Star Flower. Star Flower tells him he scented him when she was meeting with Clear Sky, and Thunder tells her to stay away from his father.
- Thunder goes on a hunting patrol with Leaf. Leaf's scathing comments about Clear Sky taking in weak cats who can't hunt for themselves makes Thunder uncomfortable, but he ignores them. When they successfully catch a piece of prey, Thunder exclaims that with more patrols, there'll be enough food for everyone. Thunder goes back to camp, and asks Lightning Tail where Clear Sky is. Lightning Tail replies that he left camp with Star Flower. Thunder thinks that he has something to tell him - something that he won't want to hear.
- Star Flower and Clear Sky meet at a place where snakes live. Star Flower weaves around Clear Sky, asking if he trusts her. Clear Sky replies that Thunder thinks he shouldn't. Star Flower says that she is sorry she hurt Thunder, but he is a young cat and will get over it. Clear Sky wonders if he should ignore Star Flower just to please his son, but then he ponders if Thunder really wants him to be alone. Clear Sky goes back to camp, noticing his cats are hungry. He still forbids hunting patrols to go out, and Thunder decides he has had enough. He tells Clear Sky that he won't disturb him, or hunt near his camp. He will live in another part of the forest, but he can't be apart of Clear Sky's group. Leaf, Lightning Tail, Cloud Spots, Owl Eyes, and Pink Eyes offer to go with him. Clear Sky asks to speak with Thunder in private, and he asks his son what he's doing. Thunder tells him that he ignores his advice, so it's pointless for him to be here. Clear Sky asks him if he should get special treatment because he's his son, and Thunder retorts that on the moor, he was no cat's son and was respected. Clear Sky scornfully asks if he's leaving because he doesn't get respect. Thunder tells him he's leaving because he can't stand any of Clear Sky's dumb decisions. Clear Sky tells him he explained why he's not sending out hunting patrols, and Thunder tells him that's not what he meant. He tells him to banish Star Flower from the forest, as she can't be trusted. Clear Sky tells him he can't order him how to lead his group. Thunder tells him he thinks he knows it all, but he doesn't. Thunder and his cats leave. Star Flower tells Clear Sky that a few troublemakers have left, and this is his chance to build the strong, loyal group he has always wanted. She tells him that Thunder won't ever be the leader he was, and Clear Sky lets her words comfort him. He presses against her, thinking that finally, he has a mate worthy of him.
- The cats who had chosen to live with Thunder follow him to their new camp, which was found accidentally. It is in a ravine in the heart of the woods. Milkweed had joined them prior to finding camp. Next morning, Thunder goes out on a hunting expedition. He tracks a sparrow and kills it, and a black tom emerges, stating that was his prey. Thunder apologizes, and the tom tells him he is from the mountains. Thunder is immediately interested, knowing how Gray Wing and Clear Sky came from the mountains. He introduces her to an old gray she-cat, and the tom urges her to eat. Thunder realizes that their names are Sun Shadow and Quiet Rain. Thunder wonders if Sun Shadow could be related to Tall Shadow or her brother, Moon Shadow. Quiet Rain asks if Thunder knew any cat called Gray Wing, Jagged Peak, or Clear Sky. Sun Shadow asks if he knows Moon Shadow, saying he is his father. Thunder tells him where Gray Wing and Jagged Peak live, but does not mention Clear Sky. Sun Shadow asks if he knew Moon Shadow again, and Thunder, unable to break the news to Moon Shadow's son that his father is dead, says he will take both of them to Tall Shadow, so she can tell them everything she knows.
- Quiet Rain's wounds look as if they need treating, and Thunder suggests they bring her back to his camp. Sun Shadow tells him that she won't wait, especially now that she knows her sons are near. Thunder goes to tell the others that he is leaving, and he runs into Milkweed. He explains to her the situation, and asks if the camp would be okay without him. Milkweed tells him it's okay, and prompts him to go. Thunder finds a new route to the pines, avoiding the usual trek he would have to make as it crosses into Clear Sky's territory. On the way, he asks Quiet Rain and Sun Shadow to tell him about the mountains. From their descriptions, he assumes it sounds cold and barren, and Sun Shadow explains that Stoneteller had found it. They see River Ripple, who asks them why they didn't take the woods. Thunder improvises that he believes the moor would be easier to cross. Thunder introduces Sun Shadow and Quiet Rain, and refers to Sun Shadow as Moon Shadow's son. River Ripple dips his head, commenting that Moon Shadow was a fine cat. Sun Shadow is surprised by his use of the word "was", and Thunder tells him that his father died from a forest fire. Quiet Rain asks if the others are okay, and Thunder tells her that Jagged Peak, Gray Wing, and Clear Sky are fine. He refuses to tell her about the others, thinking that so many are dead. After Thunder explains how Moon Shadow bravely died, Quiet Rain asks if he knows Gray Wing and Clear Sky. Thunder tells her he is Clear Sky's son, and Quiet Rain asks where Bright Stream is. Thunder replies that she is dead, and that his mother is Storm, who is also dead. Quiet Rain asks why they ever came here, as this is a place of death. River Ripple comforts her, saying that this is a place where prey is rich and greenleaf is warm. Thunder, finding some good news, tells Quiet Rain that Jagged Peak had kits. River Ripple adds that Hawk Swoop had them as well. River Ripple tells Thunder that the camp is deep in the forest, and Thunder thinks it might take a while to find. Thunder looks at Quiet Rain, noticing that she is very tired. He hopes they get there soon, but is uneasy about breaking the deaths of so many Tribemates to her.
- They find Tall Shadow's camp, and enter. Tall Shadow is surprised to see Quiet Rain, and Holly asks if she knows this cat. Quiet Rain says she knows her well, and Tall Shadow is shocked to see Moon Shadow's son. Quiet Rain asks where Gray Wing is, and the cats stay silent. Holly says he left camp a few days ago, and Quiet Rain asks if he's missing. She is grief-stricken, and Pebble Heart rushes to treat her wounds. Jagged Peak sees Quiet Rain, and instantly rushes over to her, greeting his mother. Quiet Rain looks at his leg, asking what happened. Jagged Peak explains that he fell from a tree, and Quiet Rain exclaims that he is lame. Jagged Peak is hurt, and Quiet Rain asks where Clear Sky is. Thunder tells her that he lives in the forest, and he will take her to see him when she is stronger. Quiet Rain asks Tall Shadow where Gray Wing is, and Tall Shadow repeats that they don't know. Quiet Rain tells her to find him, as she came to see her kin. Thunder wills the two she-cats not to fight, and knows there is more grief for Quiet Rain to face. Tall Shadow seems to understand that too, and looks at Thunder, asking him to find Gray Wing.
- At the moor, Gray Wing feels glad that he can help the moor cats hunt. He wonders if his campmates in the pines need help as well, but he remembers Jagged Peak saying that Gray Wing isn't as fast as he used to be. He recalls Tall Shadow accusing him of giving orders ever since he joined them in the pines. He knows that Tall Shadow and Jagged Peak accused him of taking over as leader, and he irritability thinks that they should make up their minds. He realizes that he is accepted here on the moor for who he is. He feels that in the moor, Slate enjoys his company and Wind Runner was grateful for the prey he caught. He knows that on the moor, his breathing has eased as he can run faster, breathe more deeply, and sleep more soundly. But he misses Pebble Heart, thinking the tom might be alone ever since his littermates left. He knows he should go back to him, but thinks that he could go tomorrow. Thunder appears in camp, saying that he had been tracking Gray Wing. Thunder tells him that Quiet Rain is in the forest, and Gray Wing instantly runs to see her. But his breathing slows, and Thunder tries to walk with him. Gray Wing asks why he didn't take her to Clear Sky's camp, and Thunder says that he left his camp and set up his own. Gray Wing accidentally walks into a rabbit trap, and Fern helps him get out. Thunder is suspicious of Fern when Gray Wing tells him she is spying for Slash, and Gray Wing offers her to walk with them as they go to Tall Shadow's camp. At the camp, Gray Wing instantly greets his mother, grateful that she is here as he thought he would never see him again. Quiet Rain asks him what is on his paw, and Gray Wing tells her he was caught in a Twoleg trap. Quiet Rain asks why they ever came to this place, as there is nothing but death and danger. She tells him that they should've stayed in the mountains.
- Fern is questioned by Tall Shadow and the others. Jagged Peak asks if Gray Wing is rounding up every stray he can. Jagged Peak's kits scramble up to Fern, asking all sorts of questions. Holly tells them to be polite, and apologizes to Fern for their behavior. Fern says that they have spirit and will grow into fine hunters. Jagged Peak asks Fern if she can prove she is a friend, and Holly says that she can prove it when she's rested and eaten. Tall Shadow agrees, and Jagged Peak asks if they're going to take every stray. Thunder tells him that strays are as loyal as mountain cats. Quiet Rain thanks Thunder for finding Gray Wing, and says she wants to see Clear Sky. Gray Wing tells Thunder to get him, but Thunder protests, saying he's spent all day taking cats from camp to camp. Gray Wing tells him to stop acting like a kit, and to get Clear Sky while Quiet Rain is still well enough to talk. Thunder reluctantly does so, but stops at his camp to tell Lightning Tail. Lightning Tail follows him to Clear Sky's camp, and Thunder finds him, telling him about Quiet Rain. Star Flower offers to come, but Clear Sky tells her to stay at camp, as she is expecting his kits. Thunder takes Clear Sky to Tall Shadow's camp, but unbeknownst to them, Star Flower had followed them. Thunder is annoyed, and Star Flower tells Tall Shadow she is here to help Clear Sky. Clear Sky tells Gray Wing and Jagged Peak that Quiet Rain wants to talk to them. Thunder wonders if Quiet Rain had expected to find her sons united in a prey rich land, and doesn't know what will happen once Quiet Rain finds out the truth.
- Quiet Rain asks what happened to her friends. Jagged Peak says that Shattered Ice and Dappled Pelt live besides the river now, and Quiet Rain snaps that she knows that. Clear Sky says that Quick Water lives in the forest with him, and so does Acorn Fur. Quiet Rain asks who Acorn Fur is, and Clear Sky says she is Hawk Swoop's kit. Quiet Rain asks what happened to Hawk Swoop, and Clear Sky replies that she is dead. Quiet Rain asks how, and Clear Sky says there was a battle. Quiet Rain asks with who, and Jagged Peak replies "with Clear Sky". Quiet Rain asks who fought Clear Sky, and Gray Wing replies that he did. The three brothers explain what happened leading up to the battle - how Clear Sky had left the moor and divided borders and kept expanding them, how talk didn't work, and how they ended up in a battle. Gray Wing tells her that Jackdaw's Cry and Falling Feather died in the battle. Quiet Rain asks what happened to Turtle Tail, Shaded Moss, and Rainswept Flower. Gray Wing and Jagged Peak say that Turtle Tail and Shaded Moss died from a monster, and when it is their turn to answer about Rainswept Flower, they are lost for words. Clear Sky says that he killed her, and he was mad with rage so he was not thinking straight. Quiet Rain orders Jagged Peak and Gray Wing away, and she berates Clear Sky. She hisses, saying she didn't imagine raising a kit to kill his Tribemate. Quiet Rain tells him that he is no kit of hers, and she never wants to see him again. Clear Sky asks for forgiveness, and Quiet Rain says she never will. Clear Sky stumbles out of the den, and Star Flower helps him out. Clear Sky asks if he is a monster, and Star Flower tells him that he is a hero and a leader. She says that he makes tough decisions that others fear, and there is no shame in that. Clear Sky hopes she is right.
- Thunder is afraid that Quiet Rain might die, thinking it would be unfair as she had traveled such a long distance to see her sons. Thunder delivers some herbs to Quiet Rain, which she stubbornly refuses to eat. Thunder eats some for her, and she manages to eat as well. Quiet Rain tells Thunder about how Clear Sky had left the mountains, and how she had sent Gray Wing to go after him. Quiet Rain tells him she stayed behind because the mountains were her home, but now she wishes she hadn't come to the woods, as it had caused nothing but trouble, how it had set brother against brother. Thunder feebly tries to defend Clear Sky, and hears Clear Sky talking to Star Flower about Quiet Rain. Star Flower tells him to make peace with Quiet Rain before she -- and Quiet Rain breaks them off, asking who is planning her death. Star Flower introduces herself as Clear Sky's mate, and Quiet Rain berates Clear Sky once more. Thunder realizes where Clear Sky got his arrogance from. Gray Wing and Jagged Peak ask to come in, and her sons offer her prey. Jagged Peak tells Clear Sky not to nag her, after he had upset her greatly. Clear Sky states that he was just trying to offer her food, and Star Flower silences both of them, telling them that their mother would like to see her kits get along. Thunder looks at Star Flower, thinking that she might be the right mate for Clear Sky after all. Quiet Rain starts to tremble, and Jagged Peak asks if he should get Pebble Heart. Gray Wing says she might just be sleeping, but they are interrupted by a desperate call from Holly, who wails that her kits are missing.
- Clear Sky states that they must find them before they freeze. The cats split themselves up into separate patrols to search different parts of their territory, and Thunder realizes that Star Flower and Clear Sky are working together. Tall Shadow is surprised when she sees that Clear Sky wants to join the search. Gray Wing says he should come, but the cats decide he should stay in camp. Clear Sky searches the pines, hearing the three kits on top of a three. He sees Storm Pelt, Dew Nose, and Eagle Feather. Clear Sky hears a crow coming overhead, and he climbs the tree as quickly as he can. When Clear Sky reaches the branch where the kits are hiding at, he threatens the crow, sending it away. He helps Eagle Feather, Dew Nose, and Storm Pelt climb down the tree by giving them orders on how to work together. Clear Sky feels a surge of protectiveness, never feeling like that before. Guilt floods over him as he realizes he should have felt that way about Thunder. Dew Nose almost falls, but Clear Sky grabs her before it is too late. Eagle Feather asks how they will get down, and Clear Sky says they will have to climb on his back like squirrel kits. He tells them to climb on, as there is enough room for all of them. He tells them to imagine it is a badger ride, and it will be the most exciting one they've had.
- At camp, Gray Wing tells Quiet Rain that Jagged Peak's kits had disappeared and Clear Sky had gone to search for them. Quiet Rain grunts that he is too soft on them, as no kit of hers would've strayed away. Gray Wing tells her that the forest is safer. Quiet Rain tells him that no place is safe for foolish kits, and Gray Wing assures her that they have patrols searching for them. Quiet Rain tells him that he was always the gentlest of her kits. She had worried that he lacked Clear Sky's spirit and Jagged Peak's stubbornness, but he had the kindest heart and hoped for the best. She says she knew that he would find Jagged Peak when he left her. Gray Wing says that he wished he had gone back to the mountains. Gray Wing mutters that he didn't keep Jagged Peak safe, and Quiet Rain tells him that it wasn't his fault he fell out of a tree. Quiet Rain asks Gray Wing why he doesn't have a mate, and Gray Wing tells her that he had a mate - Turtle Tail. Quiet Rain tells him that he had noticed at last. Gray Wing says that her kits, Owl Eyes and Sparrow Fur live in the woods, and that Pebble Heart lives with them. Quiet Rain is surprised that Gray Wing hadn't told her about Pebble Heart, and understands why Pebble Heart looks at him with such fondness whenever he speaks. Quiet Rain informs him that he shouldn't spend the rest of his life mourning, and he should have another mate. Jagged Peak's kits come back into camp, and Gray Wing notices Clear Sky's back has pieces of fur ripped, and asks him if he got into a fight. Clear Sky purrs, saying he climbed down a tree with three kits off of him. When they check on Quiet Rain, Pebble Heart breathes that her wound is worse. Quiet Rain rests, with Jagged Peak's kits hanging over her. He sees that her eyes are half open, but unblinking. Gray Wing hopes that Pebble Heart's herbs work, as she cannot come all this way just to die.
- Clear Sky is woken by Thunder. Thunder says that Pebble Heart had sent him, as Quiet Rain is getting worse. Clear Sky realizes that Quiet Rain is dying. Star Flower tells him that she is waiting for him, and Clear Sky goes in. Gray Wing informs Quiet Rain that Clear Sky is here, just as he asked. Quiet Rain is thankful that her dear friend had came, and Clear Sky thinks that he is her son, not her friend. Quiet Rain says that it is good to see Shaded Moss again. Her sons don't think she can hear them, or even know they are there. Quiet Rain seems to be talking to Shaded Moss alone. She echoes Shaded Moss's apparent words, asking if she should forgive Clear Sky as he drove his brothers away and killed a Tribemate. Quiet Rain opens her eyes, able to see again. She looks at all her sons, satisfied that they are there. She tells them not to be sad when she is gone, that it will be a relief. She says she had lived a long life, and a good one. She states she had known hunger and cold, but she knew love too. She tells Clear Sky, her first born, that she forgives him, as Shaded Moss had explained something. She begins to elaborate, but she is broken by a coughing fit. Jagged Peak tells Pebble Heart to help her, but Pebble Heart solemnly replies that there is nothing he can do. Quiet Rain continues, saying that Shaded Moss told her that it was all foretold, and Clear Sky could not help what he did, for it had to be that way. Quiet Rain states that she has forgiven Clear Sky, and he must learn to forgive himself. Her eyes grow dull, and her life slips away from her. Clear Sky gazes at her dead body, knowing that these final moments with his mother would mark the rest of his life.
- The day gives way to night as the pine cats sit vigil for Quiet Rain. Thunder notices that Sun Shadow had come all this way to see his father, but he was truly alone among strangers. Tall Shadow says that they need to bury her, and Jagged Peak suggests that they bury her at the four trees. Star Flower says that River Ripple should be at the burial, as he is a leader and apart of the five petals of the Blazing Star. Gray Wing points out that Wind Runner is too, but they are giving her space. Clear Sky tells him he is right, that they should leave Wind Runner alone, but bring River Ripple. Star Flower says she will fetch him, but Clear Sky argues, saying it is too far for her. Star Flower meets his gaze and tells him that carrying kits does not make a she-cat weaker, it makes her stronger. River Ripple joins them at the four trees, and they notice that the ground is frozen. But all the cats - Tall Shadow, Sun Shadow, Pebble Heart, Thunder, River Ripple, Clear Sky, and Gray Wing work together to dig a hole and bury Quiet Rain. Spirit cats appear to talk to them, and Bright Stream is among them. She says that they must forget all they have known, and carry paths that will lead them to a new dawn. Clear Sky states that she means they should unite, and Gray Wing says they need to choose a new beginning, as Bright Stream had said. Clear Sky tries to convince them that they should join together, and Thunder tells him that he has his own camp now, and his loyalties are to them and not Clear Sky. Clear Sky will always be his father, but he cannot let them be the cats they do not want to be, and he must find his own path. Star Flower tells him that Clear Sky knows this, and Thunder tells them to take care of each other. He goes back to camp, and Lightning Tail gives him reports of what is going on in the camp. Thunder thinks that tomorrow, he will go with Lightning Tail and bring fresh-kill back for his cats.
- The burial is over, and the cats start to return to their respective camps. Gray Wing wonders if his true campmates are Tall Shadow and Jagged Peak. He stops, telling Tall Shadow he can't come with her, as he cannot live among the pines. Tall Shadow asks if it's because she accused him of taking over, and Jagged Peak says that they need him there. Gray Wing shakes his head, replying that they don't. He explains that he can hardly breathe in the pines, and he is not as fast as he used to be. He describes that the wind rushes through him, and he can run without losing his breath. Tall Shadow looks worried, asking if he'll be lonely. Gray Wing pictures Slate, saying he hopes not. Pebble Heart tells Gray Wing he must follow the path he chooses, and Gray Wing asks if he will mind. Pebble Heart says he wants him to be happy, and he will know where to find him. Tall Shadow frowns, asking where he will go. Pebble Heart replies for him, saying he is going to Wind Runner's camp. Tall Shadow says that they will miss him, and Gray Wing tells him to take care of Fern. He does not warn them about Slash yet, thinking that Fern will. Gray Wing tells Pebble Heart that he is proud of him, and Pebble Heart replies that he knows. Gray Wing turns away, and heads for Wind Runner's camp. Gorse Fur asks if everything is okay, and Gray Wing replies that he can't live in the pines anymore. Wind Runner tells him he is welcome here. Slate asks if Gray Wing is staying for good, and Gray Wing responds that he is. Wind Runner's kits ask him for a badger ride, and Gorse Fur convinces her to let them. Gray Wing attempts to take them to the moor top, but lets them off, saying they can run to the top. Dust Muzzle says he will race Moth Flight. Gray Wing asks Slate if she is happy he came back, and Slate asks him what he thinks.
- Clear Sky wonders if there had been gossip in the camp when Star Flower was gone, and is grateful that Tall Shadow and Gray Wing had treated her like an equal. He is even more thankful that Thunder had shown her a grudging respect, and remembers how she had comforted Clear Sky. He goes to sleep, dreaming to see Storm, and he apologizes to her. Storm asks what for, as he has everything he wants, and she is pleased to see him settled at last. Clear Sky says he wish he had given her happiness when he had the chance, and he recalls several memories: Jagged Peak's accident, the quarrels with Thunder, and the battle with Gray Wing. Storm fondly tells Clear Sky to forgive himself. She says that he has made mistakes, but that is part of living. Clear Sky tells her that he had driven every cat away. Storm looks at Star Flower, saying not every cat. Clear Sky asks if Storm belongs with him, and she asks him if he wants his future filled with his past. She tells him that his future lies with Star Flower and her kits, and tells him to take care of them. Clear Sky wakes up, realizing it is a dream. Clear Sky realizes that Star Flower is gone, and goes up to look for her. He calls her name, and a nasty voice replies that she is over here. Three scarred toms are around her, and Clear Sky tells her to come to him, as he won't let the other cats hurt her. Star Flower doesn't move, fear in her eyes. A gray tom sneers that Star Flower was always sensible, and Clear Sky looks at her, surprised that she knows these cats. The gray tom says that they grew up together, and he had always expected her to be his mate, but now she is expecting Clear Sky's kits. The tom introduces himself as Slash, an old friend of One Eye's. Clear Sky states that Star Flower is coming with him, and rears, but Slash hauls Star Flower to the ground, with the others cats around her, their fangs bared. Clear Sky freezes, wondering how he can fight them off without Star Flower getting hurt. Slash snarls, sarcastically saying it would be a shame to wound such a pretty cat with kits in her belly, and the thought of harming them breaks his heart. Star Flower tries to fend Slash off, saying that he is not worthy of saying One Eye's name. Slash argues with Clear Sky about the groups they had built, and says that he wants to meet with the leaders tomorrow so he can discuss how they share their prey. Clear Sky asks what would happen if they don't agree, and Slash replies that he will kill Star Flower. The three cats drag Star Flower away, and Clear Sky fights the urge to run after and defend her, but he knows she might die. He sees Quick Water, who didn't help. Clear Sky is furious when Quick Water accuses it of being an act, scratching her face. Quick Water tells him that clawing her won't make Star Flower loyal. She tells him that no cat will fight mangy rogues to save a traitor, and Clear Sky thinks she is wrong. He tells himself that no cat will threaten his kits and get away with it.
- Slate wakes up, groggy with pain to hear a voice, grateful that she is awake. She looks up, seeing a limp orange body. She recognizes her brother, Cricket. The tom who had talked to her - a gray tabby - says her friend was not too lucky. He explains he was out hunting and he found them, and the remains of the other tom. He says that the fox had gone by then. Slate is horrified, knowing that she could have chased the fox off, and it is her fault that her brother is dead. The gray tom apologies for her loss, and says she doesn't look too good. He says he knows a cat who heals, but she has to stay alive so he can go get him. He asks her to promise, and Slate tries to nod. The gray tom says it doesn't look like much of a nod, and he comes up with a new plan. He says he will send his mate and kids to look after her while he gets help. He does not wait for Slate to respond. Slate knows he is being kind, but wishes he would leave her alone, for if she died, she would be with her brother. Slate feels relieved as her senses go away. However, darkness does not consume her for long, as she wakes up to see two very bright-eyed kittens - one a white she-cat, one a gray tom. The white kit declares her dead, sounding disappointed. The gray tom counters her, saying that she is looking right at her. The white kit gasps, noting her eyes are open, and asks her if she wants to be friends. A wiry brown she-cat tells her kits to get away from her, saying that they don't know what kind of diseases the rogue has. Slate is annoyed at the she-cat's rudeness, but doesn't she why she should care. Although she shouldn't, Slate wants to claw the arrogant look off of her face, offended that the she-cat called her a rogue. She realizes that she is apart of the group that Cricket had complained about - the cats that had settled in the moor and forest, claiming the land as their own and making it hard for others to find prey. Slate raises her head and looks at the she-cat, telling her pointedly that she can hear them.
- The she-cat asks if she has the sickness, and Slate replies that she doesn't. She tells her that her name is Slate, and the brown cat introduces herself as Wind Runner. Slate asks what the kits' names are, and Wind Runner stiffly replies that she doesn't need to know that yet. Slate sarcastically thinks she is a wonderful cat to spend her dying moment with. Wind Runner claws up moss and soaks it with water, ordering Slate to drink. Wind Runner asks what happened, and Slate tells her about the fox and how her brother died. Wind Runner seems upset, and introduces her to her kits. She tells the kits to come over, but they remind her that they told her not to come close. Wind Runner snorts, telling them not to come too close. She asks Slate if she has any kits of her own, and Slate replies that she hasn't had the time, and thinks to herself that she had never found a tom that she liked enough to have kits with. Wind Runner says she is lucky in a way. She tells Slate that she hadn't slept a night ever since they were born. Slate comments that they must be needy, and Wind Runner says that she loves them too much. Slate realizes that Wind Runner is very kind - just tough on the outside. The gray tom that helped Slate comes back, introducing himself as Gorse Fur. He brings Cloud Spots with him, explaining that he knows a lot about herbs and can help treat her. Slate is aware of Cloud Spots treating her wounds, and falls asleep.
- She hears Cloud Spots, Wind Runner, and Gorse Fur talking among themselves. Cloud Spots says he cannot move Slate as far as the hollow, and Gorse Fur suggests they take her in. Wind Runner is angry, pointing out they left the hollow to get away from other cats, and now they're going to take in some flea-bitten rogue. Slate's initial dislike of Wind Runner returns, stating that she does not want to join their camp. Gorse Fur asks why not, and Slate replies that all they do is fight. Cloud Spots asks what she wants to do. He questions if she has any kin, and Slate says she can look after herself. Slate tries to walk away, but she collapses, and Gorse Fur tells Wind Runner that they have to take her in. Wind Runner is annoyed, but agrees. She firmly states that Slate cannot stay for too long. Slate glares at her, saying she's not looking to become one of her cats. Cloud Spots comments that both of them will have a lot to talk about.
- A half moon has passed since Slate had been taken in by Wind Runner, and the wound in her belly healed. The small white kit comments that Slate is eating better, and Slate replies that she is feeling better. The white kit realizes she has to leave once she feels better, and exclaims that she will miss her. Slate says she might come to visit, and the kit, named Moth Flight, says it won't be the same. She says that she is the only one who plays with her, as her parents are out hunting and her brother thinks she is too silly. Slate says that maybe he is right, but it is okay to be silly, as it is apart of who you are. Slate asks where Wind Runner or Gorse Fur are, and Moth Flight tells her they tracked a fox after it killed a stoat. Slate is worried, knowing that stoats are tough fighters. She finds Wind Runner and Gorse Fur, who explain to her their plan for defeating the fox. Slate warns them that they don't know what they are in for.
- Together, the moor cats track the fox and attack it. They are able to defeat it, but at a large cost. Slate becomes severely injured, and she blacks out. When she wakes up, Moth Flight states that she said she wouldn't die. Wind Runner expresses that she was so afraid for Slate, saying that she didn't wake up even after they dragged her home. Cloud Spots comments that Slate was a fighter. Slate thanks them for healing her wound, and says she will leave as soon as she gets stronger. Gorse Fur exchanges a glance with Wind Runner, beginning to speak, but Wind Runner cuts him off. She exclaims that she can't leave, and Gorse Fur agrees that she is family now. Wind Runner asks if she would ever want to become a group cat. Slate thinks that half a moon ago, this wouldn't be possible. She agrees, saying she does want to become apart of the family.
- Tall Shadow was supposed to have a PoV in this book, but Kate's version got edited out. However, it is still available online to read.
- Despite Jagged Peak being the one who is supposed to be giving Eagle Feather a badger ride, the kit is seen with Mouse Ear, with his siblings climbing on older cats, instead of Jagged Peak being the one giving the ride.
- A Forest Divided (EN), HarperCollins (Hardcover), 7 April 2015
- A Forest Divided (EN), HarperCollins (eBook), 7 April 2015
- A Forest Divided (EN), HarperCollins (Library Binding), 7 April 2015
- A Forest Divided (EN), HarperCollins (paperback; reprint), 15 March 2016
- Der geteilte Wald (DE), Beltz (hardcover), 18 July 2016
- 占地为王 (CN), 陕西未来出版社有限责任公司 (paperback), 1 July 2016
- 分裂森林 (ZH), MorningStar (paperback), 15 May 2017
References and Citations
- ↑ Revealed on Kate's blog
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Information from HarperCollins.com
- ↑ Revealed on http://www.silverpelt.co.uk/ShortStories/A%20Forest%20Divided%20-%20Alternative%20Chapter%2015%20by%20Kate%20Cary.pdf
- ↑ Revealed in A Forest Divided, page 51
- ↑ Revealed in A Forest Divided, page 58
- ↑ Revealed on HarperCollins's catalog
- ↑ Revealed on beltz.de
- ↑ Revealed on amazon.cn
- ↑ Revealed on MorningStar
|A Forest Divided 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 • Bonus Scene|