|"Darktail was wrong! The badger den wasn't abandoned at all!"|
|— Hawkwing's thoughts in Hawkwing's Journey, page 70|
- Below contains in-depth information for chapter six of Hawkwing's Journey. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
- Chapter Number: 6 (of 35)
- Page Numbers: 65-74
- Hawkwing stares up at the oak tree and he wonders since it forks into three, and a thinner fourth branch, if it is the tree Darktail told them about. He notes that every cat is beginning to wonder if they missed Darktail's landmark, but Billystorm proceeds to say he thinks it's the correct tree. Hawkwing takes a breath, thinking that it is the first time speaking to his Clanmates since his outburst of anger, and gestures towards the tree. Waspwhisker points out the thinner fourth branch, and when Hawkwing retorts back, he comments about being a young cat.
- They have a vote, and all except Hawkwing say that the tree is the landmark Darktail mentioned. They then follow the direction of the setting sun, which is low on the horizon and staining the sky red. Hawkwing realizes everyone besides himself is in good spirits, drawing energy from finding the first sign, and believing they are only a short walk from the other Clans. Blossomheart wonders what the other Clans will be like, and if they will be surprised to see SkyClan. Pebblepaw wonders if the Clans will want SkyClan to join them, or if they will drive them out like before. Hawkwing snaps at her, saying that was ages ago, and murmurs under her breath that she is a mouse-brain.
- Billystorm ignores Hawkwing's comment, saying that is a sad part of SkyClan's history, and that they did kick them out when SkyClan lost their territory. He adds that Firestar had told them he regretted doing that, and he assumes that the other Clans feel the same way. Pebblepaw starts to argue but Billystorm cuts her off, saying that they don't know what's going to happen, but StarClan will not lead them astray. The younger cats keep quiet, while Waspwhisker and Billystorm casually chat about Firestar's kin. Waspwhisker wonders what it'll be like to see the other Clans, and his ginger companion warmly replies to him, saying that Firestar was a great cat.
- Hawkwing isn't sure, however, and says to himself that he only argued with Pebblepaw because he can't stand her. The dark gray cat shares Waspwhisker's wonder, since SkyClan had been away for so long. Soon the forest grew denser, with more ferns and brambles appear between some trees. The patrol hears the sound of water, and hurries toward it. Emerging from a clump of bushes, Hawkwing and the others find themselves at the edge of a stream. Billystorm declares for them to follow the water, since Darktail had mentioned one.
- Waspwhisker points out to everyone that the white tom had also described a clearing, then considers following the stream. As the journeying cats emerge into a large clearing, Hawkwing knows they are right, and is embarrassed at his past actions. But luckily, not even Pebblepaw points this out. He is pleased to know that they are on the right track, and if Darktail's directions are correct, they'd be close. Billystorm glances around, and Blossomheart claws at the soil with excitement. She announces their quest must be nearly over, as it is now only a two day's journey.
- Billystorm nods, starting to say that they should make a camp, but his apprentice, Pebblepaw, interrupts him. She asks what the smell is, and Hawkwing tastes the air, recognizing it as a badger's scent, and tells her that Darktail said they left. As the patrol advances into the clearing, the tabby warrior spots several holes: too big to be rabbit holes, with badger smell flowing from them. The fur on his neck rises, and asks if Darktail is wrong about the abandoned dens. Just then, a badger appears from one of the hollows, sticking its snout out first. He stands, frozen, as it climbs out, its eyes bright and malignant.
- Blossomheart lets out a shriek, and Hawkwing realizes that two more badgers have clambered out into the open. Panic seizes him as he knows how wrong Darktail is, because these dens aren't abandoned. For a heartbeat, it seems as though every creature has turned to ice. Then suddenly, the badgers throw themselves forward for the attack. The biggest one goes for Blossomheart, but as she tries to avoid it, she slips and falls. Hawkwing springs into action, jumping in between the badger and his sister, and its teeth sink into his shoulder. The SkyClan warrior barely feels it, because all he cares about is saving Blossomheart.
- He growls at the creature, and it lifts him off the ground. The badger shakes him around, but his sister shrieks, and launches herself forward, landing on its back. The tortoiseshell claws its ears furiously, and Hawkwing manages to rip himself free when the badger's grip loosens. He slashes it's flank, and darts out of range from the huge, blunt head. The striped creature rears onto its hind legs, trying to shake Blossomheart off, but she clings on, swiping for its ears still.
- Hawkwing takes a brief glance around, and sees Pebblepaw, Waspwhisker, and Billystorm surrounded by the other badgers. They stand back-to-back in an attempt to defend themselves, and Hawkwing guesses the badgers are younger and less-experienced, but still have dangerous claws and teeth. Finally, the bigger badger throws Blossomheart off, and she hits the ground, beneath her attacker. She rakes the creature's stomach, then scrambles away to its other side. It lets out a fierce cry, and another badger lumbers out from one of the dens. Hawkwing is despaired to see another one, and wonders how many more there are.
- He crouches in defiance as the big badger seems to draw new energy from its denmate, but then Pebblepaw flings herself past him. She slashes for one's eyes, then swipes at the other. Both the creatures back away, and Hawkwing spots the one he and his sister injured, retreat back into its hollow. The other badger lays in the grass, clawing at the blood trickling from around its eyes and down its nose. Gratitude for his Clanmate flows through Hawkwing, before the tabby realizes he hasn't seen Waspwhisker and Billystorm. He whirls around, and sees the senior warriors.
- Waspwhisker is limping on three legs, and Billystorm lays in a pool of blood. Hawkwing stiffens up, dismayed, and instantly wonders how Leafstar will react. Without warning, Pebblepaw throws herself across the clearing, snapping and clawing as she attacked the badgers; Hawkwing and Blossomheart follow her quickly. The biggest badger has joined in again, and to Hawkwing, the clearing seems full of their stench and snarling. Seeing Billystorm's body gives strength to the young warrior's anger, and he leaps forward, slashing at his opponents. Pebblepaw seems to be everywhere though, a shrieking whirl of teeth and claws, showing no sign of safety for herself.
- Anguished, he knows his friend has lost control: she just want to avenge her mentor. Finally the lead badger let out a cry, and the big creatures retreated into their hollows. Pebblepaw still gave chase, clawing and biting at the badger's hind legs as they disappear into the dens. Hawkwing orders the she-cat to let them go, because the fight is over. And when he meets Pebblepaw's gaze, he can see the same desperation he felt when Duskpaw died. Panting, the mottled apprentice runs over to Billystorm, and jumps over, landing beside him. Hawkwing's heart lurches as he sees the wound in the ginger tom's flesh; massive claw marks are scored down his stomach.
- His apprentice tries to shake Billystorm awake, but he doesn't move, and Waspwhisker murmurs to Pebblepaw that he is dead. She lets out a wail, flinging her head back, and Hawkwing feels all his annoyance with her fade as he realizes her grief. He suggests to carry Billystorm away, and find somewhere to sit vigil for the warrior. Pebblepaw stares at the gray warrior, as if she doesn't remember him, then bows her head in silence.
- Blossomheart asks what they're going to say to Leafstar, and Waspwhisker, his voice hoarse, replies that they'll tell the truth. He says that Billystorm died a warrior's death, defending his Clanmates. Hawkwing guesses the gray and white tom's words are supposed to be comforting, but he knows that nothing would comfort Leafstar once she knows.
References and citations
|Hawkwing's Journey 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 • Manga|