|"Being a warrior is not about destroying our rivals. It is about making our Clan strong and safe alongside the other cats in the forest."|
|— Spottedpaw about being a warrior in Spottedleaf's Heart, chapter 8|
|Publish Date:||11 April 2017|
|Preceded by:||The Rise of Scourge|
|Followed by:||Into the Wild|
- Young apprentice Spottedpaw is determined to become a warrior...until she realizes that to save her Clan, she must become its next medicine cat.
Detailed Plot Summary
- Spottedkit plays with her denmates in the clearing, pretending to be Clan leader. She declares that ThunderClan is way better than rogues, and Redkit moves to attack. Spottedkit protests that she hasn’t given the signal yet, but Frostkit mentions that no one knows what it’s supposed to be. The tortoiseshell gets frustrated that Redkit ruined her game, and demotes him from deputy. Willowkit offers to be deputy, but Spottedkit insists she can’t. Eventually, her denmates become tired of her bossing them around and leave to play a different game. Spottedkit is disheartened, and trots over to Swiftbreeze. Her mother comforts the kit, saying that sometimes it’s good to give power to others, as well. The pair look at Thistleclaw and Tigerpaw, who have just returned from patrol. Swiftbreeze comments that the apprentice shouldn’t be learning so much as his age, but Spottedkit disagrees.
- Spottedkit pads over to the fresh-kill pile, and she approaches Thistleclaw. He sees her looking at a thrush, and offers her the feathers for her nest. She is unsure, but accepts the gift from him. Whitepaw comes over and asks if he can have some too, and Thistleclaw obliges. Spottedkit teases the apprentice that if he has more feathers, he might fly. The kit dabs a feather on Whitepaw’s nose, and more on his flank. Bluefur comes over and tells them to stop, as it’s a waste of bedding. She scolds them both, and then reprimands Thistleclaw as well. The tom is offended, especially when the warrior goes on about his training methods with Tigerpaw. Suddenly, Brindlekit and Redkit pounce on Thistleclaw. They wind him, and Spottedkit helps him regain his breath. The warrior thanks her, commenting that she might be a good medicine cat one day. She replies her paws are set on the path of a warrior, and Thistleclaw amends he would be proud to fight beside her.
- Spottedpaw has her apprentice ceremony, and Sunstar appoints Thrushpelt as her mentor. She excitedly asks him if they can go outside camp, and he replies that they can in a moment. The Clan cheers for Spottedpaw and her newly named littermates, Willowpaw and Redpaw. The new apprentices go out to see ThunderClan’s territory, and Thistleclaw and his apprentice join them. Spottedpaw is awestruck by the beauty of the forest, and her mentor points out important landmarks. They take a break, as the new apprentice becomes winded quickly. She asks if they can go see the Thunderpath now, and Thrushpelt obliges. Spottedpaw promises to work hard and be the best warrior she can be.
- Awhile later, she and her mentor go out on patrol with Thistleclaw and Tigerpaw. The spiky warrior seems impressed with her hunting skills, as she hasn’t been training long. Thistleclaw spots a squirrel in a tree, and shows it to Spottedpaw. With some encouragement, she climbs the branches in pursuit of it. However, Spottedpaw slips from the tree, and the world goes black. The apprentice’s parents and Thrushpelt soon arrive, and they worriedly rush her back to camp. They blame Thistleclaw, but the spiky warrior insists that she should have been trained to better climb trees. They set her in the medicine cat’s den, and Thrushpelt says that she’s off-duties for awhile. Featherwhisker makes Spottedpaw eat some herbs, and assures the cats surrounding that the apprentice will get better.
- Spottedpaw races through the trees, running from a fox. She gasps, then awakens, realizing it was a dream. Featherwhisker tends to her, telling the tortoiseshell that she still needs to rest awhile. Spottedpaw protests that she’s bored, but the medicine cat simply gives her several stacks of herbs to sort out. Featherwhisker shows her which one is which, and she finishes quickly. The medicine cat talks about what it’s like to hold a healer’s rank in the Clan, and she seems interested. Poppydawn comes to visit Spottedpaw, and Willowpaw follows. The gray apprentice exclaims that she caught a thrush for her, and the tortoiseshell thanks her. Willowpaw asks when Spottedpaw will be training again, and Featherwhisker says she needs a few more days to rest. However, in two days, the apprentice is able to hobble around camp unassisted. She meets with Redpaw and Swiftbreeze, who are glad she seems better. Sunstar looks at Spottedpaw, reminding that she can only go back to her duties once she’s fully healed. A patrol returns, with everyone boasting about how Tigerpaw chased off some kittypets. Thistleclaw is with them, and bounds over to Spottedpaw. He offers to take her out on a walk, and they make amiable conversation. The apprentice spots an injury on Thistleclaw’s ear, and asks why he didn’t have Featherwhisker tend to it. He says that only the weak are injured, and he wants to keep it as a battle scar. Spottedpaw is briefly unsettled by his answer, but moves closer to him. She purrs as she sits down, only thinking about how happy she is sitting here with Thistleclaw.
- Spottedpaw organizes Featherwhisker’s store, commenting that he’d better not mess it up again. The medicine cat thanks her as she makes her way across to Thrushpelt. She meows a greeting to her littermates, who have just returned from a hunting patrol. Spottedpaw practices her hunting skills with her mentor, and when he is appeased, they separate to go hunting. She hears voices coming from a distance, and sees Bluefur, Thistleclaw, and Tigerpaw confronting an intruder. Spottedpaw realizes that they have cornered a black kit, and watches as the dark tabby apprentice attacks it. She holds her breath as Thistleclaw goads him on until Bluefur steps in to intervene. Spottedpaw takes a deep breath, backing away. Thrushpelt finds his apprentice and says that they need to return to camp. She agrees, helping her mentor carry their prey back to camp. Her shoulder aches, and Thrushpelt says that she can go get herself something to eat. Thistleclaw invites her to eat with him, and she follows the warrior to a shady spot. Spottedpaw bravely mentions that she saw his earlier confrontation of the kit intruder, but he defends his actions. She becomes angry with him, and runs away to a spot near Sunningrocks. Thistleclaw follows her with prey and apologizes, complimenting Spottedpaw, and saying they could have a future together. She feels at ease with his words, and he invites her come somewhere with him tonight. Spottedpaw agrees, and he disappears into the bushes.
- Spottedpaw waits up in her nest for Thistleclaw, wondering where he’ll take her. Goosefeather enters, telling her that she is the one who loves foolishly. She is confused by his words, not understanding what they mean. Later at night, she hears a crack, seeing Thistleclaw in front of of her. He beckons her to follow him, and the two cats race through a dark, dank forest. Thistleclaw insists that she’s safe with him, and takes her to meet a cat named Mapleshade. After they get acquainted, they follow the she-cat to a place somewhat like a training hollow. Mapleshade orders Thistleclaw and Houndleap to fight, and Spottedpaw is bewildered that the spiky warrior obliges without complaint. The two cats viciously fight with each other, claws unsheathed. She calls a warning to Thistleclaw when she sees Houndleap getting the upper hand. However, the warrior doesn’t seem to hear her, and slams his opponent against a tree. Spottedpaw is horrified, realizing that she’s in the Place of No Stars. She sees Thistleclaw pummel Houndleap, and decides to gather bracken to stop his bleeding. She returns with some, and presses it against the scrawny tom’s wounds. Spottedpaw asks the bleeding cat why Thistleclaw, but the spiky warrior approaches from behind. He answers that he’s becoming a better warrior, and she protests that this is evil. Thistleclaw seems to disagree, and she starts to run away from him into the looming forest.
- Spottedpaw awakens, her pelt filthy and matted. Her littermates are shocked at her condition, and tell her to clean up before training. However, Thrushpelt quickly spots her, and tells her that they are going on a border patrol. The warrior then seems to take a second look at Spottedpaw, instead saying that she should go clean up, then meet her later for training. She agrees, leaving out the gorse tunnel. Spottedpaw then ducks into some ferns to clean up, hoping no one will notice her. However, Thistleclaw sees the apprentice and offers to take her out training with Whitepaw and Tigerpaw. Spottedpaw hesitantly says yes, and he leaves to bound back to camp. Thistleclaw soon returns with the two following him, but Tigerpaw protests that Spottedpaw only just begun her training. His mentor silences the dark tabby’s protests, saying it’s good to have a new training partner. The spiky warrior pairs Whitepaw and Tigerpaw against each other, saying Spottedpaw will fight the winner. The three apprentices race to the sandy hollow, with Tigerpaw easily winning. They then begin their training match, and Whitepaw manages to beat his competitor by flicking sand in his eyes. Thistleclaw summons Spottedpaw to fight Whitepaw, and she fares well. She almost beats the white apprentice when the tortoiseshell pauses, remembering that the move she’d been about to use came from the Place of No Stars. Spottedpaw flees in terror at the memory, but Thistleclaw comes after her. He confronts her, and she bleats that being in that dark forest is wrong, and that he should stop. Thistleclaw refuses to listen to Spottedpaw, saying that he must do it to keep his Clan safe. He then insists that he would do anything for her, the she-cat he loves. Spottedpaw hesitates, not knowing what to say due to her conflicting emotions.
- Spottedpaw wakes early the next morning, and Featherwhisker asks her why she’s up. She says that she had bad dreams, unwilling to tell the medicine cat about Thistleclaw’s troubling Place of No Stars visits. The apprentice quickly turns away, spotting Stormtail across the clearing. She notices that he’s very frail, and seemed to be drinking a lot. Spottedpaw asks if the warrior is okay, and he and Bluefur insist that he’s fine, and will go on patrol. Speckletail then leads the cats out of camp, but the apprentice continues to worry. She tells her thoughts to Featherwhisker, who agrees that he'll go and bring the gray tom back to camp. However, White-eye bursts into the den with a thorn in her eye. The warrior panics, but Featherwhisker is able to treat the injury so that she’ll still be able to see. The medicine cat tells Spottedpaw to go after Stormtail, ignoring Thrushpelt telling her that she needs to clean out the elders' den. She races to Snakerocks, soon catching up with the patrol. Spottedpaw informs the cats of the situation, and they spread out to find Stormtail. However, the tortoiseshell apprentice spots him slumped beneath a boulder. She wails for help, soon bringing the patrol running. They collaborate to carry Stormtail back to camp, as he is unconscious but still breathing. Spottedpaw runs ahead to warn Featherwhisker, and the tom lays out a nest for him. The patrol comes in and sets Stormtail down, and Featherwhisker diagnoses him with the thirsting sickness. He says it cannot be cured, but that the gray tom can be made comfortable. Spottedpaw then leaves the den, reprimanding Bluefur for letting Stormtail on patrol earlier. Thrushpelt soon interrupts her, leading his apprentice out into the forest. The tom tells her that it’s okay if she wants to be a medicine cat apprentice, as he can tell she likes helping Featherwhisker. She is appalled, but after some thought, Spottedpaw insists that she wants to be a warrior.
- Spottedpaw dreams herself into the Place of No Stars, and goes to find Thistleclaw. She sees him in Mapleshade’s training sessions, pummelling a light brown tabby she-cat. Spottedpaw tries to step in and stop him when he deals a killing bite, but he snarls at her. She is too late, and the she-cat fades from beneath her. Spottedpaw is bewildered, and Mapleshade orders Thistleclaw to get rid of her. He leads her away from the scene, asking what she wants. Spottedpaw pleads with him to stop coming here, so they can have a future together. She insists that she does have the option to become a medicine cat, as Thrushpelt said, but would rather be a warrior with him. Spottedpaw says that if he truly loves her, he’ll promise to never come here again. Thistleclaw shakes his head, saying that being in the Place of No Stars is a part of his destiny that he can’t ignore. Spottedpaw pleads with him one last time, but the warrior insists that he needs to feel the rip of flesh between his claws. Thistleclaw meows that every battle will be won, and their enemies blood shed. Spottedpaw backs away, saying that he’s now made his choice. She wishes him the best, then turns to leave him. The apprentice awakens in her own nest, smelling of blood. Spottedpaw pushes her way out of the den, seeking Featherwhisker. On the way, Stormtail thanks her for saving him, and Bluefur apologizes for what she said the previous day. Spottedpaw accepts the apology, and finds the medicine cat in his den. The tom asks if she needs help, but she replies that she’d like to become his apprentice.
- Tigerclaw receives his warrior name from Sunstar along with Whitestorm. The Clan cheers for them, and Spottedpaw notices that Bluefur is pregnant. ThunderClan assumes that the father is Thrushpelt, but the queen seems unsure. Spottedpaw senses Thistleclaw watching her, but doesn’t return the glance. She knows that he plans to become the next deputy, after Tawnyspots. Featherwhisker leads her back to the medicine den, commenting that he wishes White-eye and Bluefur had waited until newleaf to bear kits. Spottedpaw seems to agree, and both conclude that the Clan will care for the queens no matter how hard the leaf-bare. Shortly after, Bluefur’s kitting begins in the nursery. Spottedpaw assists her mentor as the blue-gray she-cat works in bringing her kits into the world. Soon enough, two healthy she-cats and a tom are born to a tired mother. Thrushpelt enters the den, asking what Bluefur would like to name them. She names her kits Stonekit, Mistykit, and Mosskit. Featherwhisker comments that the father didn’t choose any of the names, but Spottedpaw dismisses the comment. She lets out a long purr, thinking about how perfect the kits are.
- Spottedpaw stops to catch her breath, wondering why she offered to become a medicine cat. She has been fetching wet moss for several cats for a good portion of the day, and is exhausted. Spottedpaw sees Tawnyspots emerge from the dirtplace, looking very frail. The apprentice worries about him, knowing he might have to step down soon. Bluefur’s kit approach Spottedpaw, asking if she’s brought a treat for them. She says that it’s only fresh moss, and the younger cats are disappointed. Spottedpaw quickly delivers the moss to Goosefeather, and sets out to get more. On her way out of camp, she sees Thrushpelt bring a squirrel over to the kits as a treat. They get excited, but Bluefur insists that they’ve had enough to eat already. Thrushpelt apologizes to the kits, and walks away with his prey. Thistleclaw returns from a patrol, announcing that they beat some kittypets today. Spottedpaw notices that Fuzzypelt has a splinter, but when she takes it out, the apprentice realizes it came from the Twolegplace. She realizes that the patrol purposefully sought out the kittypets, even though they hadn’t crossed the border. Bluefur comes to the same conclusion, and is angry, but Spottedpaw says that they may as well get used to a bossy Thistleclaw as he’s bound to be deputy. The queen’s eyes darken, and replies that that won’t happen if she can help it. Spottedpaw urges her to focus on her kits, but Bluefur insists that she loves them, but her Clan might need her. The apprentice is confused by the conviction in her voice, and watches her walk away. On the night of the Gathering, Bluefur requests to go with the patrol. Spottedpaw is surprised, but agrees she’ll watch her kits. Bluefur thanks her, and the cats begin to file out of camp. Spottedpaw gives a mint leaf to Tawnyspots, then checks on the nursery to see every cat asleep.
- Later that night, when the patrol returns, Bluefur tells Spottedpaw in a low voice that she’s made her choice. She goes to sleep, but is awakened by a soft rustle and some murmuring. Spottedpaw sees that Stormtail is on guard, and tells him of what she heard. They both look for the source of the sound, but he fails to see it. Spottedpaw then turns slightly and realizes that Bluefur and her kits are sneaking out. She feels conflicted, knowing that whatever the queen is doing is for a purpose. Spottedpaw tells Stormtail to go take a look, but he still comes up empty handed. The medicine cat apprentice insists that he go look on the other side of the ravine, while she goes the other way. Spottedpaw follows Bluefur to Sunningrocks, where she sees two shapes talking. She realizes that the queen is giving away her kits, and prays to StarClan that they stay safe. A voice sounds in her mind, telling her that the kits will be okay. Spottedpaw knows that the voice is Snowfur’s, who is Bluefur’s sister. The medicine cat apprentice vows that she and Bluefur will both guard their hearts, and never be foolish or blind again.
- This takes place before Rusty joins ThunderClan.
- This book was not released in digital format first. This, Pinestar's Choice, and Thunderstar's Echo were all released at once.
|Spottedleaf's Heart chapters|
|Chapter 1 • Chapter 2 • Chapter 3 • Chapter 4 • Chapter 5 • Chapter 6 • Chapter 7 • Chapter 8 • Chapter 9 • Chapter 10|